Gene-environment interactions in cardiovascular disease

Elena Flowers, Erika Sivarajan Froelicher, Bradley E. Aouizerat

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Background: Historically, models to describe disease were exclusively nature-based or nurture-based. Current theoretical models for complex conditions such as cardiovascular disease acknowledge the importance of both biologic and nonbiologic contributors to disease. A critical feature is the occurrence of interactions between numerous risk factors for disease. The interaction between genetic (i.e. biologic, nature) and environmental (i.e. non-biologic, nurture) causes of disease is an important mechanism for understanding both the etiology and public health impact of cardiovascular disease. Objectives: The purpose of this paper is to describe theoretical underpinnings of gene–environment interactions, models of interaction, methods for studying gene–environment interactions, and the related concept of interactions between epigenetic mechanisms and the environment. Discussion: Advances in methods for measurement of genetic predictors of disease have enabled an increasingly comprehensive understanding of the causes of disease. In order to fully describe the effects of genetic predictors of disease, it is necessary to place genetic predictors within the context of known environmental risk factors. The additive or multiplicative effect of the interaction between genetic and environmental risk factors is often greater than the contribution of either risk factor alone.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)472-478
Number of pages7
JournalEuropean Journal of Cardiovascular Nursing
Issue number4
StatePublished - 2012


  • Confounding
  • Environment and public health
  • Gene expression
  • Genetic variation
  • Methods
  • Phenotype

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Cardiology and Cardiovascular Medicine
  • Medical–Surgical
  • Advanced and Specialized Nursing


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