[show abstract][hide abstract] ABSTRACT: We have undertaken a study on variations in cholinesterase (ChE) genes in relation to cardiovascular (CV) function and the metabolic syndrome. Peripheral and central nervous system control of cardiovascular (CV) function mediated through cholinergic pathways is critical in homeostatic maintenance of blood pressure and responsiveness to stress. For acetylcholinesterase (AChE; EC 22.214.171.124) our focus is to identify single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) in the gene that are linked to cardiovascular function. For butyrylcholinesterase (BChE; EC 126.96.36.199) we examined whether BChE activity correlated with parameters of the metabolic syndrome and cardiovascular function. ChE can be found in whole blood enabling a characterization of biochemical phenotype in addition to correlating genotype with phenotypic physiologic responses. Analysis of enzymatic activity was determined spectrophotometrically in blood samples from twin and other subject registries. Correlation analysis revealed significant relationships between enzyme activity and certain CV endpoints. Linkage analysis with data from a dizygotic (DZ) twin set showed a suggestive linkage at the BChE locus, and statistical analysis revealed a high correlation between BChE activity and variables associated with cardiovascular risk and the metabolic syndrome. Pattern of within-pair twin correlations by zygosity and the ACE model-fitting findings suggest the major source of this variation (65%) is attributable to an additive genetic component. To date 19 SNPs have been identified by the re-sequencing of AChE including four nonsynonymous coding SNPs (cSNPs).