Ancestral and environmental patterns in the association between triglycerides and other cardiometabolic risk factors

Karlijn A. C. Meeks*, Amy R. Bentley, Charles Agyemang, Henrike Galenkamp, Bert-Jan H. van den Born, Nordin M. J. Hanssen, Ayo P. Doumatey, Adebowale A. Adeyemo, Charles N. Rotimi*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review


Background: West Africans and African Americans with substantial (∼80%) West African ancestry are characterized by low levels of triglycerides (TG) compared to East Africans and Europeans. The impact of these varying TG levels on other cardiometabolic risk factors is unclear. We compared the strength of association between TG with hypertension, blood pressure, BMI, waist circumference, type 2 diabetes (T2D), and fasting glucose across West African (WA), East African (EA), and European (EU) ancestry populations residing in three vastly different environmental settings: sub-Saharan Africa, United States, and Europe. Methods: We analysed data from four cross-sectional studies that included WA in sub-Saharan Africa (n = 7201), the U.S. (n = 4390), and Europe (n = 6436), EA in sub-Saharan Africa (n = 781), and EU in the U.S. (n = 8670) and Europe (n = 4541). Linear regression analyses were used to test the association between TG and cardiometabolic risk factors. Findings: Higher adjusted regression coefficients were observed in EU compared with WA ancestry for TG on hypertension (EU β [95% CI]: 0.179 [0.156, 0.203], WA β [95% CI]: 0.102 [0.086, 0.118]), BMI (EU β [95% CI]: 0.028 [0.027, 0.030], WA β [95% CI]: 0.015 [0.014, 0.016]), and waist circumference (EU β [95% CI]: 0.013 [0.013, 0.014], WA β [95% CI]: 0.009 [0.008, 0.009) (all ancestry × trait interaction P-values <0.05), irrespective of environmental differences within ancestry groups. Less consistency was observed among EA. Associations of TG with T2D did not follow ancestry patterns, with substantial variation observed between environments. Interpretation: TG may not be an equally strong associated with other established cardiometabolic risk factors in West and East Africans in contrast to European ancestry populations. The value of TG for identifying individuals at high risk for developing metabolic disorders needs to be re-evaluated for African ancestry populations. Funding: National Institutes of Health, European Commission, Dutch Heart Foundation, Netherlands Organization for Health Research and Development, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Original languageEnglish
Article number104548
Publication statusPublished - 1 May 2023
Externally publishedYes

Cite this