The primary objective of this study was to determine whether disc degeneration, as assessed through magnetic resonance imaging, is greater in smokers than in nonsmokers. To control for the maximum number of potentially confounding variables, pairs of identical twins highly discordant for cigarette smoking were selected as study subjects. Data analyses revealed 18% greater mean disc degeneration scores in the lumbar spines of smokers as compared with nonsmokers. The effect was present across the entire lumbar spine, implicating a mechanism acting systemically. This investigation demonstrates the efficiency of using carefully selected controls in studying conditions of multifactorial etiology, such as disc degeneration.
We evaluated whether the association between low education and greater risk of dementia is explained by genetic influences, using three different types of analyses. The HARMONY study (Swedish for "health" (Hälsa), "genes" (ARv), "environment" (Miljö), "and" (Och), and "new" (NY)) includes members of the Swedish Twin Registry who were aged 65 and older and alive in 1998, and who were screened and clinically assessed for dementia. There were 394 cases with dementia and 7786 unrelated controls. Analyses included co-twin control, tests for association between education and a measured genotype, and bivariate twin modeling. Low education was a significant risk factor for dementia both in case-control analyses (odds ratio=1.77, 95% confidence interval 1.38 to 2.28) and co-twin control analyses with monozygotic twin pairs (odds ratio=3.17, 95% confidence interval 1.26 to 7.93). Apolipoprotein E genotype was not associated with education and did not account for the relationship between education and dementia. Bivariate twin modeling showed that the association between education and dementia was not mediated by genetic influences in common between education and dementia. The association was mediated by shared environmental influences that were related to both dementia and to education. Low education is confirmed as a risk factor for dementia. Findings from three different analytic approaches showed that genetic influences did not explain this association.
The effects of acquired obesity on lipid profile and lipoprotein composition in rare BMI-discordant monozygotic (MZ) twin pairs were studied.
Abdominal fat distribution, liver fat (magnetic resonance imaging and spectroscopy), fasting serum lipid profile (ultracentrifugation, gradient gel-electrophoresis, and colorimetric enzymatic methods), and lifestyle factors (questionnaires and diaries) were assessed in 15 BMI-discordant (within-pair difference [?] in BMI >3 kg/m2) and nin concordant (?BMI
Both genetic and environmental factors are involved in the etiology of obesity and the associated lipid disturbances. We determined whether acquired obesity is associated with changes in global serum lipid profiles independent of genetic factors in young adult monozygotic (MZ) twins. 14 healthy MZ pairs discordant for obesity (10 to 25 kg weight difference) and ten weight concordant control pairs aged 24-27 years were identified from a large population-based study. Insulin sensitivity was assessed by the euglycemic clamp technique, and body composition by DEXA (% body fat) and by MRI (subcutaneous and intra-abdominal fat). Global characterization of lipid molecular species in serum was performed by a lipidomics strategy using liquid chromatography coupled to mass spectrometry. Obesity, independent of genetic influences, was primarily related to increases in lysophosphatidylcholines, lipids found in proinflammatory and proatherogenic conditions and to decreases in ether phospholipids, which are known to have antioxidant properties. These lipid changes were associated with insulin resistance, a pathogonomic characteristic of acquired obesity in these young adult twins. Our results show that obesity, already in its early stages and independent of genetic influences, is associated with deleterious alterations in the lipid metabolism known to facilitate atherogenesis, inflammation and insulin resistance.
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To determine the independent associations of dietary preference for fat with obesity without the confounding by genetic effects.
Descriptive comparison of the responses of monozygotic twins discordant for obesity to questions concerning current and past preference for dietary fat, current overconsumption of fatty items and recalled food consumption compared to the co-twin.
The Research and Development Centre of the Social Insurance Institution, Finland.
Twenty-three healthy monozygotic twin pairs who were discordant for obesity (BMI difference at least 3 kg/m(2)).
Obesity status of the twin, as a function of the current and recalled dietary preferences and selected psychosocial variables.
The obese twins reported current preference for fatty foods three times more frequently than the lean co-twin. Moreover, when comparing recalled taste for fat at the time the twins left their parental homes, both the obese and lean co-twins consistently recalled that the obese twin had greater preference for fatty foods in young adulthood, and that the lean twin had less. Psychological characteristics of lean and obese co-twins did not differ.
Acquired preference for fatty foods is associated with obesity, independent of genetic background. Modification of fat preferences may be an important step in the prevention of obesity in the general population.
Acute polyhydramnios in monozygotic twin pregnancy causes severe maternal discomfort and carries a high risk of premature labor. During the years 1980 to 1987, 36 patients with this complication were delivered in Sweden, giving an incidence of 1/20,000 births, or 1/200 twin births. In 18 patients (group A) who were treated with one or more amniotic taps, the delivery was postponed by 2 weeks, as compared with one week in 18 conservatively treated patients (group B). The peri- and neonatal death rate was 47% in group A and 58% in group B. Our own experience is that amniotic taps are safe if the amniotic fluid is removed slowly under prophylactic tocolysis. It gives symptomatic relief to the mother and may postpone labor until the gestational age of the twins is more compatible with survival.
To explore the links between neurodevelopmental disorders - attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) and autism spectrum disorder (ASD) - and personality in a population-based, genetically sensitive study of children.
A population-based sample of 1886 twins aged 9 and 12, enriched for childhood mental health problems, was recruited from the Child and Adolescent Twin Study in Sweden (CATSS). Parents were interviewed over the telephone using the Autism-Tics, AD/HD and other Comorbidities (A-TAC) inventory, and in a second step they rated their children according to the Junior Temperament and Character Inventory (JTCI).
ADHD was strongly correlated with novelty seeking, while ASD was correlated positively with harm avoidance and negatively with reward dependence. The strongest associations between personality traits and neurodevelopmental disorders were negative correlations between the character dimensions of self-directedness and cooperativeness and ADHD and ASD alike. Cross-twin cross-trait correlations between ADHD, ASD, and personality dimensions in monozygotic twins were more than double those in dizygotic twins, indicating a strong genetic effect behind the phenotypic covariation between neurodevelopmental disorders and personality.
Neurodevelopmental disorders are linked specifically to particular temperament profiles and generally to hampered development of the self-governing strategies referred to as "character." Poor self-agency and cooperation may be core functional outcomes in the separation of children with handicapping conditions from those with traits only reminiscent of neurodevelopmental disorders. The associations between neurodevelopmental disorders and personality are at least partly due to genetic effects influencing both conditions. As a consequence, personality must be broadly considered in neuropsychiatry, just as neuropsychiatric disorders and their genetic, neurodevelopmental, and cognitive susceptibilities have to be in personality research and clinical treatment.
Adipocyte size and number have been suggested to predict the development of metabolic complications in obesity. However, the genetic and environmental determinants behind this phenomenon remain unclear.
We studied this question in rare-weight discordant (intra-pair difference (?) body mass index (BMI) 3-10 kg m(-2), n=15) and concordant (?BMI 0-2 kg m(-)(2), n=5) young adult (22-35 years) monozygotic twin pairs identified from 10 birth cohorts of Finnish twins (n=5 500 pairs). Subcutaneous abdominal adipocyte size from surgical biopsies was measured under a light microscope. Adipocyte number was calculated from cell size and total body fat (D ? A).
The concordant pairs were remarkably similar for adipocyte size and number (intra-class correlations 0.91-0.92, P
Low adiponectin levels have been associated with high body mass index, low insulin sensitivity, and diabetes. OBJECTIVE: To assess the relationships between changes in serum adiponectin concentration and adiposity, glucose, and insulin in response to long-term overfeeding in identical twins and to calculate the twin resemblance in serum adiponectin concentrations. SUBJECTS AND DESIGN: Twenty-four sedentary young men [mean (+/-SD) age, 21+/-2 yr] who constituted 12 pairs of healthy identical twins were studied for metabolic and adiponectin changes in response to overfeeding. INTERVENTION: Subjects were overfed by 84,000 kcal over a 100-day period. OUTCOME MEASURES: The overfeeding study provides an opportunity to examine the relationships between adiponectin and changes in body weight, adiposity, plasma glucose and insulin. RESULTS: Serum adiponectin concentration correlated positively with body weight (r= 0.41, p=0.05) at baseline but not with indicators of adiposity or with visceral fat. No relationship existed between baseline adiponectin concentration and body weight or adiposity gains with overfeeding. However, serum adiponectin decreased significantly by -2.35+/-0.48 microg/ml (p=0.001) in response to overfeeding. Baseline adiponectin levels correlated negatively with changes in plasma fasting glucose levels (r=-0.53, p=0.01) and homeostasis model assessment index (r=-0.41, p=0.05), independently of fat mass. The intrapair coefficient for twin resemblance (r=0.75, p=0.001) strongly suggests that baseline serum adiponectin concentration is a familial trait. CONCLUSIONS: These data provide evidence that adiponectin concentration is a familial trait in normal-weight individuals, that it decreases when challenged by positive energy balance, and that its overfeeding-induced variations are correlated with glucose and insulin levels.
Adolescent alcohol abuse is associated with adverse outcomes in early adulthood, but differences in familial status and structure and household and community environments correlate with both adolescent drinking and adverse adult outcomes and may explain their association. We studied drinking-discordant twin pairs to evaluate such confounds to ask: Will between-family associations replicate in within-family comparisons?
With longitudinal data from >3,000 Finnish twins, we associated drinking problems at age 18½ with 13 outcomes assessed at age 25; included were sustained substance abuse, poor health, physical symptoms, early coital debut, multiple sexual partners, life dissatisfaction, truncated education, and financial problems. We assessed associations among twins as individuals with linear regression adjusted for correlated observations; within-family analyses of discordant twin pairs followed, comparing paired means for adult outcomes among co-twins discordant for adolescent problem drinking. Defining discordance by extreme scores on self-reported problem drinking at age 18½ permitted parallel analyses of twins as individuals and discordant twin pairs. Alternate definitions of pair-wise discordance and difference score correlations across the entire twin sample yielded supplementary analyses.
All individual associations were highly significant for all definitions of discordance we employed. Depending on definitions of discordance, 11 to 13 comparisons of all drinking-discordant twin pairs and 3 to 6 comparisons of discordant monozygotic (MZ) twin pairs replicated between-family associations. For most outcomes, effect size attenuated from individual-level analysis to that within discordant MZ twin pairs providing evidence of partial confounding in associations reported in earlier research. The exception was the General Health Questionnaire (GHQ); at age 25, GHQ-12 had equivalent associations with age 18½ Rutgers Alcohol Problem Index across all comparisons.
Our analyses control for shared family background, and, partly or fully, for shared genes, to yield within-family replications and more compelling evidence than previously available that adolescent alcohol abuse disrupts transitions into early adulthood.