Differences in genetic background and/or environmental exposure among individuals are expected to give rise to differences in measurable characteristics, or phenotypes. Consequently, genetic resemblance and similarities in environment should manifest as similarities in phenotypes. The metabolome reflects many of the system properties, and is therefore an important part of the phenotype. Nevertheless, it has not yet been examined to what extent individuals sharing part of their genome and/or environment indeed have similar metabolomes. Here we present the results of hierarchical clustering of blood plasma lipid profile data obtained by liquid chromatographymass spectrometry from 23 healthy, 18-year-old twin pairs, of which 21 pairs were monozygotic, and 8 of their siblings. For 13 monozygotic twin pairs, within-pair similarities in relative concentrations of the detected lipids were indeed larger than the similarities with any other study participant. We demonstrate such high coclustering to be unexpected on basis of chance. The similarities between dizygotic twins and between nontwin siblings, as well as between nonfamilial participants, were less pronounced. In a number of twin pairs, within-pair dissimilarity of lipid profiles positively correlated with increased blood plasma concentrations of C-reactive protein in one twin. In conclusion, this study demonstrates that in healthy individuals, the individual genetic background contributes to the blood plasma lipid profile. Furthermore, lipid profiling may prove useful in monitoring health status, for example, in the context of personalized medicine. © 2008 Mary Ann Liebert, Inc.
- Netherlands Twin Register (NTR)