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The COllaborative project of Development of Anthropometrical measures in Twins (CODATwins) project is a large international collaborative effort to analyze individual-level phenotype data from twins in multiple cohorts from different environments. The main objective is to study factors that modify genetic and environmental variation of height, body mass index (BMI, kg/m2) and size at birth, and additionally to address other research questions such as long-term consequences of birth size. The project started in 2013 and is open to all twin projects in the world having height and weight measures on twins with information on zygosity. Thus far, 54 twin projects from 24 countries have provided individual-level data. The CODATwins database includes 489,981 twin individuals (228,635 complete twin pairs). Since many twin cohorts have collected longitudinal data, there is a total of 1,049,785 height and weight observations. For many cohorts, we also have information on birth weight and length, own smoking behavior and own or parental education. We found that the heritability estimates of height and BMI systematically changed from infancy to old age. Remarkably, only minor differences in the heritability estimates were found across cultural–geographic regions, measurement time and birth cohort for height and BMI. In addition to genetic epidemiological studies, we looked at associations of height and BMI with education, birth weight and smoking status. Within-family analyses examined differences within same-sex and opposite-sex dizygotic twins in birth size and later development. The CODATwins project demonstrates the feasibility and value of international collaboration to address gene-by-exposure interactions that require large sample sizes and address the effects of different exposures across time, geographical regions and socioeconomic status.
This talk discussed the basics of gravito-inertial asteroseismology as recently developed for stars born with a convective core. Photometric space missions originally built for exoplanet hunting, notably Kepler, have opened up the low-frequency regime of stellar oscillations and revealed a larger diversity in variability than anticipated prior to the era of high-precision space photometry. The talk explained the basics of forward seismic modelling based on gravito-inertial modes, which probe the deep stellar interior. It described how a hierarchical fitting approach allows us to derive the near-core rotation period, the amount and shape of convective core overshooting, and the level of chemical mixing in the radiative envelope for stars born with a convective core and burning hydrogen in their core. A summary of the current status, covering the mass range 1.4 ≲ M ≲ 5 M⊙, is provided here through references to numerous recent papers.
Studies have indicated that the association of urbanicity at birth and during upbringing with schizophrenia may be driven by familial factors such as genetic liability. We used a population-based nested case–control study to assess whether polygenic risk score (PRS) for schizophrenia was associated with urbanicity at birth and at age 15, and to assess whether PRS and parental history of mental disorder together explained the association between urbanicity and schizophrenia.
Data were drawn from Danish population registries. Cases born since 1981 and diagnosed with schizophrenia between 1994 and 2009 were matched to controls with the same sex and birthdate (1549 pairs). Genome-wide data were obtained from the Danish Neonatal Screening Biobank and PRSs were calculated based on results of a separate, large meta-analysis.
Those with higher PRS were more likely reside in the capital compared with rural areas at age 15 [odds ratio (OR) 1.19, 95% confidence interval (CI) 1.01–1.40], but not at birth (OR 1.09, 95% CI 0.95–1.26). Adjustment for PRS produced almost no change in relative risks of schizophrenia associated with urbanicity at birth, but slightly attenuated those for urban residence at age 15. Additional adjustment for parental history led to slight attenuation of relative risks for urbanicity at birth [incidence rate ratio (IRR) for birth in capital = 1.54, 95% CI 1.18–2.02; overall p = 0.016] and further attenuation of relative risks for urbanicity at age 15 (IRR for residence in capital = 1.32, 95% CI 0.97–1.78; overall p = 0.148).
While results regarding urbanicity during upbringing were somewhat equivocal, genetic liability as measured here does not appear to explain the association between urbanicity at birth and schizophrenia.
Numerous factors influence late-life depressive symptoms in adults, many not thoroughly characterized. We addressed whether genetic and environmental influences on depressive symptoms differed by age, sex, and physical illness.
The analysis sample included 24 436 twins aged 40–90 years drawn from the Interplay of Genes and Environment across Multiple Studies (IGEMS) Consortium. Biometric analyses tested age, sex, and physical illness moderation of genetic and environmental variance in depressive symptoms.
Women reported greater depressive symptoms than men. After age 60, there was an accelerating increase in depressive symptom scores with age, but this did not appreciably affect genetic and environmental variances. Overlap in genetic influences between physical illness and depressive symptoms was greater in men than in women. Additionally, in men extent of overlap was greater with worse physical illness (the genetic correlation ranged from near 0.00 for the least physical illness to nearly 0.60 with physical illness 2 s.d. above the mean). For men and women, the same environmental factors that influenced depressive symptoms also influenced physical illness.
Findings suggested that genetic factors play a larger part in the association between depressive symptoms and physical illness for men than for women. For both sexes, across all ages, physical illness may similarly trigger social and health limitations that contribute to depressive symptoms.
Maternal smoking has consistently been associated with multiple adverse childhood outcomes including externalizing disorders. In contrast the association between maternal smoking during pregnancy (MSDP) and internalizing (anxiety and depressive) disorders in offspring has received less investigation.
We conducted a nationwide cohort study including 957635 individuals born in Denmark between 1991 and 2007. Data on MSDP and diagnoses of depression or anxiety disorders were derived from national registers and patients were followed up from the age of 5 years to the end of 2012. Hazard rate ratios (HRRs) were estimated using stratified Cox regression models. Sibling data were used to disentangle individual- and familial-level effects of MSDP and to control for unmeasured familial confounding.
At the population level, offspring exposed to MSDP were at increased risk for both severe depression [HRR 1.29, 95% confidence interval (CI) 1.22–1.36] and severe anxiety disorders (HRR 1.26, 95% CI 1.20–1.32) even when controlling for maternal and paternal traits. However, there was no association between MSDP and internalizing disorders when controlling for the mother's propensity for MSDP (depression: HRR 1.11, 95% CI 0.94–1.30; anxiety disorders: HRR 0.94, 95% CI 0.80–1.11) or comparing differentially exposed siblings (depression: HRR 1.18, 95% CI 0.75–1.89; anxiety disorders: HRR 0.87, 95% CI 0.55–1.36).
The results suggest that familial background factors account for the association between MSDP and severe internalizing disorders not the specific exposure to MSDP.
Psychosocial therapy after deliberate self-harm might be associated with reduced risk of specific causes of death.
In this matched cohort study, we included patients, who after an episode of deliberate self-harm received psychosocial therapy at a Suicide Prevention Clinic in Denmark between 1992 and 2010. We used propensity score matching in a 1:3 ratio to select a comparison group from 59 046 individuals who received standard care. National Danish registers supplied data on specific causes of death over a 20-year follow-up period.
At the end of follow-up, 391 (6.9%) of 5678 patients in the psychosocial therapy group had died, compared with 1736 (10.2%) of 17 034 patients in the matched comparison group. Lower odds ratios of dying by mental or behavioural disorders [0.54, 95% confidence interval (CI) 0.37–0.79], alcohol-related causes (0.63, 95% CI 0.50–0.80) and other diseases and medical conditions (0.61, 95% CI 0.49–0.77) were noted in the psychosocial therapy group. Also, we found a reduced risk of dying by suicide as well as other external causes, however, not by neoplasms and circulatory system diseases. Numbers needed to treat were 212.9 (95% CI 139.5–448.4) for mental or behavioural disorders as a cause of death, 111.1 (95% CI 79.2–210.5) for alcohol-related causes and 96.8 (95% CI 69.1–161.8) for other diseases and medical conditions.
Our findings indicate that psychosocial therapy after deliberate self-harm might reduce long-term risk of death from select medical conditions and external causes. These promising results should be tested in a randomized design.
Approximately half of the variation in wellbeing measures overlaps with variation in personality traits. Studies of non-human primate pedigrees and human twins suggest that this is due to common genetic influences. We tested whether personality polygenic scores for the NEO Five-Factor Inventory (NEO-FFI) domains and for item response theory (IRT) derived extraversion and neuroticism scores predict variance in wellbeing measures. Polygenic scores were based on published genome-wide association (GWA) results in over 17,000 individuals for the NEO-FFI and in over 63,000 for the IRT extraversion and neuroticism traits. The NEO-FFI polygenic scores were used to predict life satisfaction in 7 cohorts, positive affect in 12 cohorts, and general wellbeing in 1 cohort (maximal N = 46,508). Meta-analysis of these results showed no significant association between NEO-FFI personality polygenic scores and the wellbeing measures. IRT extraversion and neuroticism polygenic scores were used to predict life satisfaction and positive affect in almost 37,000 individuals from UK Biobank. Significant positive associations (effect sizes <0.05%) were observed between the extraversion polygenic score and wellbeing measures, and a negative association was observed between the polygenic neuroticism score and life satisfaction. Furthermore, using GWA data, genetic correlations of -0.49 and -0.55 were estimated between neuroticism with life satisfaction and positive affect, respectively. The moderate genetic correlation between neuroticism and wellbeing is in line with twin research showing that genetic influences on wellbeing are also shared with other independent personality domains.
Major depressive disorder (MDD) is moderately heritable, however genome-wide association studies (GWAS) for MDD, as well as for related continuous outcomes, have not shown consistent results. Attempts to elucidate the genetic basis of MDD may be hindered by heterogeneity in diagnosis. The Center for Epidemiological Studies Depression (CES-D) scale provides a widely used tool for measuring depressive symptoms clustered in four different domains which can be combined together into a total score but also can be analysed as separate symptom domains.
We performed a meta-analysis of GWAS of the CES-D symptom clusters. We recruited 12 cohorts with the 20- or 10-item CES-D scale (32 528 persons).
One single nucleotide polymorphism (SNP), rs713224, located near the brain-expressed melatonin receptor (MTNR1A) gene, was associated with the somatic complaints domain of depression symptoms, with borderline genome-wide significance (pdiscovery = 3.82 × 10−8). The SNP was analysed in an additional five cohorts comprising the replication sample (6813 persons). However, the association was not consistent among the replication sample (pdiscovery+replication = 1.10 × 10−6) with evidence of heterogeneity.
Despite the effort to harmonize the phenotypes across cohorts and participants, our study is still underpowered to detect consistent association for depression, even by means of symptom classification. On the contrary, the SNP-based heritability and co-heritability estimation results suggest that a very minor part of the variation could be captured by GWAS, explaining the reason of sparse findings.
We analyzed birth order differences in means and variances of height and body mass index (BMI) in monozygotic (MZ) and dizygotic (DZ) twins from infancy to old age. The data were derived from the international CODATwins database. The total number of height and BMI measures from 0.5 to 79.5 years of age was 397,466. As expected, first-born twins had greater birth weight than second-born twins. With respect to height, first-born twins were slightly taller than second-born twins in childhood. After adjusting the results for birth weight, the birth order differences decreased and were no longer statistically significant. First-born twins had greater BMI than the second-born twins over childhood and adolescence. After adjusting the results for birth weight, birth order was still associated with BMI until 12 years of age. No interaction effect between birth order and zygosity was found. Only limited evidence was found that birth order influenced variances of height or BMI. The results were similar among boys and girls and also in MZ and DZ twins. Overall, the differences in height and BMI between first- and second-born twins were modest even in early childhood, while adjustment for birth weight reduced the birth order differences but did not remove them for BMI.
A trend toward greater body size in dizygotic (DZ) than in monozygotic (MZ) twins has been suggested by some but not all studies, and this difference may also vary by age. We analyzed zygosity differences in mean values and variances of height and body mass index (BMI) among male and female twins from infancy to old age. Data were derived from an international database of 54 twin cohorts participating in the COllaborative project of Development of Anthropometrical measures in Twins (CODATwins), and included 842,951 height and BMI measurements from twins aged 1 to 102 years. The results showed that DZ twins were consistently taller than MZ twins, with differences of up to 2.0 cm in childhood and adolescence and up to 0.9 cm in adulthood. Similarly, a greater mean BMI of up to 0.3 kg/m2 in childhood and adolescence and up to 0.2 kg/m2 in adulthood was observed in DZ twins, although the pattern was less consistent. DZ twins presented up to 1.7% greater height and 1.9% greater BMI than MZ twins; these percentage differences were largest in middle and late childhood and decreased with age in both sexes. The variance of height was similar in MZ and DZ twins at most ages. In contrast, the variance of BMI was significantly higher in DZ than in MZ twins, particularly in childhood. In conclusion, DZ twins were generally taller and had greater BMI than MZ twins, but the differences decreased with age in both sexes.
For over 100 years, the genetics of human anthropometric traits has attracted scientific interest. In particular, height and body mass index (BMI, calculated as kg/m2) have been under intensive genetic research. However, it is still largely unknown whether and how heritability estimates vary between human populations. Opportunities to address this question have increased recently because of the establishment of many new twin cohorts and the increasing accumulation of data in established twin cohorts. We started a new research project to analyze systematically (1) the variation of heritability estimates of height, BMI and their trajectories over the life course between birth cohorts, ethnicities and countries, and (2) to study the effects of birth-related factors, education and smoking on these anthropometric traits and whether these effects vary between twin cohorts. We identified 67 twin projects, including both monozygotic (MZ) and dizygotic (DZ) twins, using various sources. We asked for individual level data on height and weight including repeated measurements, birth related traits, background variables, education and smoking. By the end of 2014, 48 projects participated. Together, we have 893,458 height and weight measures (52% females) from 434,723 twin individuals, including 201,192 complete twin pairs (40% monozygotic, 40% same-sex dizygotic and 20% opposite-sex dizygotic) representing 22 countries. This project demonstrates that large-scale international twin studies are feasible and can promote the use of existing data for novel research purposes.
As feral swine continue to expand their geographical range and distribution across the United States, their involvement in crop damage, livestock predation, and pathogen transmission is likely to increase. Despite the relatively recent discovery of feral swine involvement in the aetiology of a variety of pathogens, their propensity to transmit and carry a wide variety of pathogens is disconcerting. We examined sera from 2055 feral swine for antibody presence to six serovars of Leptospira that can also infect humans, livestock or domestic animals. About 13% of all samples tested positive for at least one serovar, suggesting that Leptospira infection is common in feral swine. Further studies to identify the proportion of actively infected animals are needed to more fully understand the risk they pose.
Genome-wide association analysis on monozygotic twin-pairs offers a route to discovery of gene–environment interactions through testing for variability loci associated with sensitivity to individual environment/lifestyle. We present a genome-wide scan of loci associated with intra-pair differences in serum lipid and apolipoprotein levels. We report data for 1,720 monozygotic female twin-pairs from GenomEUtwin project with 2.5 million SNPs, imputed or genotyped, and measured serum lipid fractions for both twins. We found one locus associated with intra-pair differences in high-density lipoprotein cholesterol, rs2483058 in an intron of SRGAP2, where twins carrying the C allele are more sensitive to environmental factors (P = 3.98 × 10−8). We followed up the association in further genotyped monozygotic twins (N = 1,261), which showed a moderate association for the variant (P = 0.200, same direction of an effect). In addition, we report a new association on the level of apolipoprotein A-II (P = 4.03 × 10−8).
The antibiotic trimethoprim acts as a folate antagonist. Since trophoblasts are very sensitive to drugs that interfere with the folic acid cycle and thereby inhibit DNA synthesis, use of trimethoprim during the first trimester could be associated with miscarriage. A nationwide cohort study including all women in Denmark with a registered pregnancy between 1997 and 2005 was conducted. We used nationwide registers to identify all women giving birth, having a record of miscarriage or induced abortion. Data on exposure to trimethoprim were obtained from the National Prescription Register. Cox proportional hazard regression analysis with exposure to trimethoprim as a time-dependent variable was used to estimate the risk of miscarriage. The adjusted hazard ratio of having a miscarriage after exposure to trimethoprim in the first trimester compared to non-exposure was 2·04 (95% confidence interval 1·43–2·91). Our results indicate that trimethoprim exposure in the first trimester is associated with a doubling of the hazard of miscarriage.
Little is known about the quality of life, health, family, education, and employment status among adult men with repaired tetralogy of Fallot.
Material and methods
A total of 68 men who underwent repair of tetralogy of Fallot between 1971 and 1991 were studied. Fifty-three patients answered the SF-36 health survey and additional questions regarding offspring, education, and employment status. The men with repaired tetralogy of Fallot were compared with 32 healthy men and 40 women who also underwent repair of tetralogy of Fallot in the same period.
The patients scored lower than healthy men in the SF-36 categories physical functioning, general health, and physical component summary. There were no statistically significant differences in the scores from male and female patients except a lower score in bodily pain among women. Educational level for men operated for tetralogy of Fallot was similar to the general male population, whereas fewer were employed and more were retired, undergoing rehabilitation or receiving social benefits. The reproduction rate was lower compared with the general population (0.65 versus 1.02 children per man) but relatively higher than the rate among women with tetralogy of Fallot (0.88 versus 1.84 children per woman). The risk of having a child with congenital heart disease was 8.3%.
Men operated for tetralogy of Fallot have good quality of life and educational status. They start a family, although their reproduction rate is two-thirds that of the general population. The risk of having a child with congenital heart disease is higher compared with the background population. The overall quality of life is similar for men and women operated for tetralogy of Fallot.
Second-generation immigrants have an increased risk of schizophrenia, a finding that still lacks a satisfactory explanation. Various operational definitions of second-generation immigrants have been used, including foreign parental country of birth. However, with increasing global migration, it is not clear that parental country of birth necessarily is informative with regard to ethnicity. We compare two independently collected measures of parental foreign ethnicity, parental foreign country of birth versus genetic divergence, based on genome-wide genotypic data, to access which measure most efficiently captures the increased risk of schizophrenia among second-generation immigrants residing in Denmark.
A case–control study covering all children born in Denmark since 1981 included 892 cases of schizophrenia and 883 matched controls. Genetic divergence was assessed using principal component analyses of the genotypic data. Independently, parental foreign country of birth was assessed using information recorded prospectively in the Danish Civil Registration System. We compared incidence rate ratios of schizophrenia associated with these two independently collected measures of parental foreign ethnicity.
People with foreign-born parents had a significantly increased risk of schizophrenia [relative risk (RR) 1.94 (95% confidence intervals (CI) 1.41–2.65)]. Genetically divergent persons also had a significant increased risk [RR 2.43 (95% CI 1.55–3.82)]. Mutual adjustment of parental foreign country of birth and genetic divergence showed no difference between these measures with regard to their potential impact on the results.
In terms of RR of schizophrenia, genetic divergence and parental foreign country of birth are interchangeable entities, and both entities have validity with regard to identifying second-generation immigrants.
To assess the role of genetic and environmental factors in female alcoholism using a large population-based twin sample, taking into account possible differences between early and late onset disease subtype.
Twins aged 20–47 years from the Swedish Twin Registry (n=24 119) answered questions to establish lifetime alcohol use disorders. Subjects with alcoholism were classified for subtype. Structural equation modeling was used to quantify the proportion of phenotypic variance due to genetic and environmental factors and test whether heritability in women differed from that in men. The association between childhood trauma and alcoholism was then examined in females, controlling for background familial factors.
Lifetime prevalence of alcohol dependence was 4.9% in women and 8.6% in men. Overall, heritability for alcohol dependence was 55%, and did not differ significantly between men and women, although women had a significantly greater heritability for late onset (type I). Childhood physical trauma and sexual abuse had a stronger association with early onset compared to late onset alcoholism [odds ratio (OR) 2.54, 95% confidence interval (CI) 1.53–3.88 and OR 2.29, 95% CI 1.38–3.79 respectively]. Co-twin analysis indicated that familial factors largely accounted for the influence of physical trauma whereas the association with childhood sexual abuse reflected both familial and specific effects.
Heritability of alcoholism in women is similar to that in men. Early onset alcoholism is strongly association with childhood trauma, which seems to be both a marker of familial background factors and a specific individual risk factor per se.