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Keywords:

  • nutrient composition;
  • genetic predisposition;
  • quantitative genetic analysis

Nutrient composition of a diet (D) has been shown to interact with genetic predispositions (G) to affect various lipid phenotypes. Our aim in this study was to confirm G × D interaction and determine whether the interaction extends to other cardiometabolic risk factors such as glycemic measures and body weight. Subjects were vervet monkeys (Chlorocebus aethiops sabaeus; n = 309) from a multigenerational pedigreed colony initially fed with a plant-based diet, standard primate diet (18% calories from protein, 13% from fat, and 69% from carbohydrates), and subsequently challenged for 8 weeks with a diet modeled on the typical American diet (18% calories from protein, 35% from fat, and 47% from carbohydrates). Our results showed that although exposure to the challenge diet did not result in significant changes in weight, most lipid and glycemic biomarkers moved in an adverse direction (P < 0.01). Quantitative genetic analyses showed that cardiometabolic phenotypes were significantly heritable under both dietary conditions (P < 0.05), and there was significant evidence of G × D interaction for these phenotypes. We observed significant differences in the additive genetic variances for most lipid phenotypes (P < 10−4), indicating that the magnitude of genetic effects varies by diet. Furthermore, genetic correlations between diets differed significantly from 1 with respect to insulin, body weight, and some lipid phenotypes (P < 0.01). This implied that distinct genetic effects are involved in the regulation of these phenotypes under the two dietary conditions. These G × D effects confirm and extend previous observations in baboons (Papio sp.) and suggest that mimicking the typical human nutritional environment can reveal genetic influences that might not be observed in animals consuming standard, plant-based diets. Am. J. Primatol. 75:491-499, 2013. © 2013 Wiley Periodicals, Inc.