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Familiality and Heritability of Fatigue in an Australian Twin Sample

  • Elizabeth C. Corfield (a1), Nicholas G. Martin (a2) and Dale R. Nyholt (a1)

Abstract

Familial factors have previously been implicated in the etiology of fatigue, of which a significant proportion is likely attributable to genetic influences. However, family studies have primarily focused on chronic fatigue syndrome, while univariate twin studies have investigated broader fatigue phenotypes. The results for similar fatigue phenotypes vary between studies, particularly with regard to sex-specific contributions to the heritability of the traits. Therefore, the current study aims to investigate the familiality and sex-specific effects of fatigue experienced over the past few weeks in an older Australian population of 660 monozygotic (MZ) twin pairs, 190 MZ singleton twins, 593 dizygotic (DZ) twin pairs, and 365 DZ singleton twins. Higher risks for fatigue were observed in MZ compared to DZ co-twins of probands with fatigue. Univariate heritability analyses indicated fatigue has a significant genetic component, with a heritability (h 2) estimate of 40%. Sex-specific effects did not significantly contribute to the heritability of fatigue, with similar estimates for males (h 2 = 41%, 95% CI [18, 62]) and females (h 2 = 40%, 95% CI [27, 52]). These results indicate that fatigue experienced over the past few weeks has a familial contribution, with additive genetic factors playing an important role in its etiology.

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Copyright

Corresponding author

address for correspondence: Elizabeth C. Corfield, Institute of Health and Biomedical Innovation, Queensland University of Technology, GPO Box 2434, Brisbane, QLD 4001, Australia. E-mail: elizabeth.corfield@connect.qut.edu.au

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