Measurement of heritability of myocardial blood flow by positron emission tomography: the Twins Heart Study

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To estimate the heritability of myocardial blood flow (MBF) and coronary flow reserve (CFR) measured with positron emission tomography (PET).


Cross-sectional twin study.


General clinical research centre of a university hospital at Atlanta, USA.


A sample of 180 middle-aged (mean±SD 55±2.9 years) male twins, including 107 monozygotic and 73 dizygotic twins.

Main outcome measures

All twins underwent imaging of MBF with PET 13NH3 at rest and after adenosine stress during a single imaging session. Structural equation modelling was used to estimate the heritability of MBF at rest and during adenosine stress, as well as of CFR.


The basal MBF (mean±SD) was 0.69±0.20 ml/min/g, and the MBF during adenosine stress was 1.70±0.49 ml/min/g; the CFR was 2.62±0.99. There was substantial heritability for MBF both at rest (0.48, 95% CI 0.29 to 0.64) and during adenosine stress (0.51, 95% CI 0.29 to 0.68), as well as CFR (0.48, 95% CI 0.26 to 0.65).


For the first time, a substantial genetic contribution to the interindividual variation in MBF and CFR measured with PET in middle-aged men has been demonstrated. The data suggest that a fruitful direction for future work would be the identification of genetic variants for early atherosclerotic stages assessed by PET imaging.

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