Abstract

Background The measurement of femoral intima-media thickness (IMT) is underutilized in the clinical practice, although it is a surrogate marker of cardiovascular disease. Materials and methods 388 Hungarian and Italian twins (121 monozygotic, 73 dizygotic pairs) underwent bilateral B-mode sonography of femoral arteries. IMT was measured by semiautomated software, where available, or by calipers. Results Within-pair correlation in monozygotic twins was higher than in dizygotics for each parameter. Age-, sex- and country-adjusted genetic effect accounted for 43.9% (95% confidence interval, CI 21.3%–65.2%) and 47.2% (95% CI, 31.4%–62.6%) of the variance of common and superficial femoral artery IMT, respectively, and unshared environmental effect for 56.1% (95% CI 34.6%–78.5%) and 52.8% (95% CI, 37.2%–68.5%). These results did not change significantly after correcting for body mass index or central systolic blood pressure. Conclusions Genetic factors have a moderate role in the determination of common and superficial femoral IMT; however, the influence of environmental (lifestyle) factors remains still relevant. Environmental factors may have a role in influencing the genetic predisposition for femoral vascular hypertrophy.