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The Vietnam Era Twin Study of Aging (VETSA) is a longitudinal behavioral genetic study with a primary focus on cognitive and brain aging in men, particularly early identification of risk for mild cognitive impairment (MCI) and Alzheimer’s disease (AD). It comprises a subset of over 1600 twins from the Vietnam Era Twin Registry. Twins live all over the USA. Assessments began when participants were in their 50s. Follow-ups were conducted every 5–6 years, and wave 3 has been completed as of this writing. The age range of participants is narrow (about 10 years). An extensive neurocognitive test battery has added precision in assessing differences in middle-aged adults, and predicting progression to MCI. Young adult cognitive test data (at an average age of 20 years) provide a means of disentangling aging effects from longstanding differences. Genome wide genotyping and plasma assays of AD biomarkers from waves 1 and 3 were conducted in wave 3. These features make the VETSA ideal for studying the heterogeneity of within-individual trajectories from midlife to old age, and for early detection of risk factors for cognitive decline.
The Project Talent Twin and Sibling (PTTS) study includes 4481 multiples and their 522 nontwin siblings from 2233 families. The sample was drawn from Project Talent, a U.S. national longitudinal study of 377,000 individuals born 1942–1946, first assessed in 1960 and representative of U.S. students in secondary school (Grades 9–12). In addition to the twins and triplets, the 1960 dataset includes 84,000 siblings from 40,000 other families. This design is both genetically informative and unique in facilitating separation of the ‘common’ environment into three sources of variation: shared by all siblings within a family, specific to twin-pairs, and associated with school/community-level factors. We term this the GIFTS model for genetics, individual, family, twin, and school sources of variance. In our article published in a previous Twin Research and Human Genetics special issue, we described data collections conducted with the full Project Talent sample during 1960–1974, methods for the recent linking of siblings within families, identification of twins, and the design of a 54-year follow-up of the PTTS sample, when participants were 68–72 years old. In the current article, we summarize participation and data available from this 2014 collection, describe our method for assigning zygosity using survey responses and yearbook photographs, illustrate the GIFTS model applied to 1960 vocabulary scores from more than 80,000 adolescent twins, siblings and schoolmates and summarize the next wave of PTTS data collection being conducted as part of the larger Project Talent Aging Study.
Here we provide an update of the 2013 report on the Nigerian Twin and Sibling Registry (NTSR). The major aim of the NTSR is to understand genetic and environmental influences and their interplay in psychological and mental health development in Nigerian children and adolescents. Africans have the highest twin birth rates among all human populations, and Nigeria is the most populous country in Africa. Due to its combination of large population and high twin birth rates, Nigeria has one of the largest twin populations in the world. In this article, we provide current updates on the NTSR samples recruited, recruitment procedures, zygosity assessment and findings emerging from the NTSR.
TwinsMX is a national twin registry in Mexico recently created with institutional support from the Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México. It aims to serve as a platform to advance epidemiological and genetic research in the country and to disentangle the genetic and environmental contributions to health and disease in the admixed Mexican population. Here, we describe our recruitment and data collection strategies and discuss both the progress to date and future directions. More information about the registry is available on our website: https://twinsmxofficial.unam.mx/ (content in Spanish).
Despite the well-known relevance of twin studies in the medical and social sciences and the growing number of twin registries throughout the world, Latin America has not fully incorporated into the twin research community. We describe the first steps taken toward developing a twin registry in Mexico: its aim, organization, recruiting potential and main short-term objectives.
The Swedish Twin Registry functions as research infrastructure containing information on 216,258 twins born between 1886 and 2015, of whom 86,199 pairs have zygosity determined by DNA, an intrapair similarity algorithm, or being of opposite sex. In essence, practically all twins alive and currently 9 years or older have been invited for participation and donation of DNA on which genomewide single nucleotide polymorphisms array genotyping has been performed. Content, management and alternatives for future improvements are discussed.
The Netherlands Twin Register (NTR) is a national register in which twins, multiples and their parents, siblings, spouses and other family members participate. Here we describe the NTR resources that were created from more than 30 years of data collections; the development and maintenance of the newly developed database systems, and the possibilities these resources create for future research. Since the early 1980s, the NTR has enrolled around 120,000 twins and a roughly equal number of their relatives. The majority of twin families have participated in survey studies, and subsamples took part in biomaterial collection (e.g., DNA) and dedicated projects, for example, for neuropsychological, biomarker and behavioral traits. The recruitment into the NTR is all inclusive without any restrictions on enrollment. These resources — the longitudinal phenotyping, the extended pedigree structures and the multigeneration genotyping — allow for future twin-family research that will contribute to gene discovery, causality modeling, and studies of genetic and cultural inheritance.
This paper is a revised and updated edition of a previous description of the Quebec Newborn Twin Study (QNTS), an ongoing prospective longitudinal follow-up of a birth cohort of twins born between 1995 and 1998 in the greater Montreal area, Québec, Canada. The goal of QNTS is to document individual differences in the cognitive, behavioral, and social-emotional aspects of developmental health across childhood, their early genetic and environmental determinants, as well as their putative role in later social-emotional adjustment, school, health, and occupational outcomes. A total of 662 families of twins were initially assessed when the twins were aged 6 months. These twins and their family were then followed regularly. QNTS now has 16 waves of data collected or planned, including 5 in preschool. Over the last 24 years, a broad range of physiological, cognitive, behavioral, school, and health phenotypes were documented longitudinally through multi-informant and multimethod measurements. QNTS also entails extended and detailed multilevel assessments of proximal (e.g., parenting behaviors, peer relationships) and distal (e.g., family income) features of the child’s environment. QNTS children and a subset of their parents have been genotyped, allowing for the computation of a variety of polygenic scores. This detailed longitudinal information makes QNTS uniquely suited for the study of the role of the early years and gene–environment transactions in development.
Addition of multispecies impurity ions to the total-f gyrokinetic particle-in-cell code XGCa is reported, including a cross-verification of neoclassical physics against the NEO code. This new version of the neoclassical gyrokinetic code XGCa is used to benchmark and confirm the previous reduced-equation-based prediction that high-
impurity particles in the Pfirsch–Schlüter regime can exhibit a significant level of up–down poloidal asymmetry, through the large parallel friction force, and thus influence the radial plasma transport significantly. The study is performed in a plasma with weak toroidal rotation. In comparison, when the impurity particles are in the plateau regime, the up–down poloidal asymmetry becomes weak, with the parallel friction force becoming weaker than the parallel viscous force. It is also found that the linearization of the perturbed distribution function, based on the small poloidal asymmetry assumption, can become invalid. Using the numerical data from XGCa, each term in the parallel fluid force-balance equation have been analysed to find that both the main ions and the electrons respond to the poloidal potential variation adiabatically when the high-
tungsten possesses large poloidal variation.
The aim of the Avera Twin Register (ATR) is to establish a prospective longitudinal repository of twins, multiples, siblings and family members’ biological samples to study environmental and genetic influences on health and disease. Also, it is our intention to contribute to international genome-wide association study (GWAS) twin consortia when appropriate sample size is achieved within the ATR. The ATR is young compared with existing registers and continues to collect a longitudinal repository of biological specimens, survey data and health information. Data and biological specimens were originally collected via face-to-face appointments or the postal department and consisted of paper-informed consents and questionnaires. Enrollment of the ATR began on May 18, 2016 and is located in Sioux Falls, South Dakota, a rural and frontier area in the Central United States with a regional population of approximately 880,000. The original target area for the ATR was South Dakota and the four surrounding states: Minnesota, Iowa, North Dakota and Nebraska. The ATR has found a need to expand that area based on twin and multiple siblings who live in various areas surrounding these states. A description of the state of the ATR today and its transition to online data collection and informed consent will be presented. The ATR collects longitudinal data on lifestyle, including diet and activity levels, aging, plus complex traits and diseases. All twins and multiples participating in the ATR are genotyped on the Illumina Global Screening Array and receive zygosity results.
The Interplay of Genes and Environment across Multiple Studies (IGEMS) is a consortium of 18 twin studies from 5 different countries (Sweden, Denmark, Finland, United States, and Australia) established to explore the nature of gene–environment (GE) interplay in functioning across the adult lifespan. Fifteen of the studies are longitudinal, with follow-up as long as 59 years after baseline. The combined data from over 76,000 participants aged 14–103 at intake (including over 10,000 monozygotic and over 17,000 dizygotic twin pairs) support two primary research emphases: (1) investigation of models of GE interplay of early life adversity, and social factors at micro and macro environmental levels and with diverse outcomes, including mortality, physical functioning and psychological functioning; and (2) improved understanding of risk and protective factors for dementia by incorporating unmeasured and measured genetic factors with a wide range of exposures measured in young adulthood, midlife and later life.
TwinsUK is the largest cohort of community-dwelling adult twins in the UK. The registry comprises over 14,000 volunteer twins (14,838 including mixed, single and triplets); it is predominantly female (82%) and middle-aged (mean age 59). In addition, over 1800 parents and siblings of twins are registered volunteers. During the last 27 years, TwinsUK has collected numerous questionnaire responses, physical/cognitive measures and biological measures on over 8500 subjects. Data were collected alongside four comprehensive phenotyping clinical visits to the Department of Twin Research and Genetic Epidemiology, King’s College London. Such collection methods have resulted in very detailed longitudinal clinical, biochemical, behavioral, dietary and socioeconomic cohort characterization; it provides a multidisciplinary platform for the study of complex disease during the adult life course, including the process of healthy aging. The major strength of TwinsUK is the availability of several ‘omic’ technologies for a range of sample types from participants, which includes genomewide scans of single-nucleotide variants, next-generation sequencing, metabolomic profiles, microbiomics, exome sequencing, epigenetic markers, gene expression arrays, RNA sequencing and telomere length measures. TwinsUK facilitates and actively encourages sharing the ‘TwinsUK’ resource with the scientific community — interested researchers may request data via the TwinsUK website (http://twinsuk.ac.uk/resources-for-researchers/access-our-data/) for their own use or future collaboration with the study team. In addition, further cohort data collection is planned via the Wellcome Open Research gateway (https://wellcomeopenresearch.org/gateways). The current article presents an up-to-date report on the application of technological advances, new study procedures in the cohort and future direction of TwinsUK.
Twin registries often take part in large collaborative projects and are major contributors to genome-wide association (GWA) meta-analysis studies. In this article, we describe genotyping of twin-family populations from Australia, the Midwestern USA (Avera Twin Register), the Netherlands (Netherlands Twin Register), as well as a sample of mothers of twins from Nigeria to assess the extent, if any, of genetic differences between them. Genotyping in all cohorts was done using a custom-designed Illumina Global Screening Array (GSA), optimized to improve imputation quality for population-specific GWA studies. We investigated the degree of genetic similarity between the populations using several measures of population variation with genotype data generated from the GSA. Visualization of principal component analysis (PCA) revealed that the Australian, Dutch and Midwestern American populations exhibit negligible interpopulation stratification when compared to each other, to a reference European population and to globally distant populations. Estimations of fixation indices (FST values) between the Australian, Midwestern American and Netherlands populations suggest minimal genetic differentiation compared to the estimates between each population and a genetically distinct cohort (i.e., samples from Nigeria genotyped on GSA). Thus, results from this study demonstrate that genotype data from the Australian, Dutch and Midwestern American twin-family populations can be reasonably combined for joint-genetic analysis.
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.
It has been over 5 years since the last special issue of Twin Research and Human Genetics on ‘Twin Registries Worldwide: An Important Resource for Scientific Research’ was published. Much progress has been made in the broad field of twin research since that time, and the current special issue is a follow-up to update the scientific community about twin registries around the globe. The present article builds upon our 2013 Registry description by summarizing current information on the Washington State Twin Registry (WSTR), including history and construction methods, member characteristics, available data, and major research goals. We also provide a section with brief summaries of recently completed studies and discuss the future research directions of the WSTR. The Registry has grown in terms of size and scope since 2013; highlights include recruitment of youth pairs under 18 years of age, extensive geocoding work to develop environmental exposures that can be linked to survey and administrative health data such as death records, and expansion of a biobank with specimens collected for genotyping, DNA methylation, and microbiome based-studies.
The National Academy of Sciences-National Research Council (NAS-NRC) Twin Registry is one of the oldest, national population-based twin registries in the USA. It comprises 15,924 White male twin pairs born in the years 1917–1927 (N = 31.848), both of whom served in the armed forces, chiefly during World War II. This article updates activities in this registry since the most recent report in Twin Research and Human Genetics (Page, 2006). Records-based data include information from enlistment charts and Veterans Administration data linkages. There have been three major epidemiologic questionnaires and an education and earnings survey. Separate data collection efforts with the NAS-NRC registry include the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute (NHLBI) subsample, the Duke Twins Study of Memory in Aging and a clinically based study of Parkinson’s disease. Progress has been made on consolidating the various data holdings of the NAS-NRC Twin Registry. Data that had been available through the National Academy of Sciences are now freely available through National Archive of Computerized Data on Aging (NACDA).
Background: Biallelic variants in POLR1C are associated with POLR3-related leukodystrophy (POLR3-HLD), or 4H leukodystrophy (Hypomyelination, Hypodontia, Hypogonadotropic Hypogonadism), and Treacher Collins syndrome (TCS). The clinical spectrum of POLR3-HLD caused by variants in this gene has not been described. Methods: A cross-sectional observational study involving 25 centers worldwide was conducted between 2016 and 2018. The clinical, radiologic and molecular features of 23 unreported and previously reported cases of POLR3-HLD caused by POLR1C variants were reviewed. Results: Most participants presented between birth and age 6 years with motor difficulties. Neurological deterioration was seen during childhood, suggesting a more severe phenotype than previously described. The dental, ocular and endocrine features often seen in POLR3-HLD were not invariably present. Five patients (22%) had a combination of hypomyelinating leukodystrophy and abnormal craniofacial development, including one individual with clear TCS features. Several cases did not exhibit all the typical radiologic characteristics of POLR3-HLD. A total of 29 different pathogenic variants in POLR1C were identified, including 13 new disease-causing variants. Conclusions: Based on the largest cohort of patients to date, these results suggest novel characteristics of POLR1C-related disorder, with a spectrum of clinical involvement characterized by hypomyelinating leukodystrophy with or without abnormal craniofacial development reminiscent of TCS.
This study evaluated tumour necrosis factor-α, interleukins 10 and 12, and interferon-γ levels, peripheral blood mononuclear cells, and clusters of differentiation 17c and 86 expression in unilateral sudden sensorineural hearing loss.
Twenty-four patients with unilateral sudden sensorineural hearing loss, and 24 individuals with normal hearing and no history of sudden sensorineural hearing loss (who were attending the clinic for other problems), were enrolled. Peripheral blood mononuclear cells, and clusters of differentiation 11c and 86 were isolated and analysed. Plasma and supernatant levels of tumour necrosis factor-α, interferon-γ, and interleukins 10 and 12 were measured.
There were no significant differences with respect to age and gender. Monocyte population, mean tumour necrosis factor-α level and cluster of differentiation 86 expression were significantly increased in the study group compared to the control group. However, interferon-γ and interleukin 12 levels were significantly decreased. The difference in mean interleukin 10 level was not significant.
Increases in tumour necrosis factor-α level and monocyte population might play critical roles in sudden sensorineural hearing loss. This warrants detailed investigation and further studies on the role of dendritic cells in sudden sensorineural hearing loss.
Firefighters are routinely exposed to various traumatic events and often experience a range of trauma-related symptoms. Although these repeated traumatic exposures rarely progress to the development of post-traumatic stress disorder, firefighters are still considered to be a vulnerable population with regard to trauma.
To investigate how the human brain responds to or compensates for the repeated experience of traumatic stress.
We included 98 healthy firefighters with repeated traumatic experiences but without any diagnosis of mental illness and 98 non-firefighter healthy individuals without any history of trauma. Functional connectivity within the fear circuitry, which consists of the dorsal anterior cingulate cortex, insula, amygdala, hippocampus and ventromedial prefrontal cortex (vmPFC), was examined using resting-state functional magnetic resonance imaging. Trauma-related symptoms were evaluated using the Impact of Event Scale – Revised.
The firefighter group had greater functional connectivity between the insula and several regions of the fear circuitry including the bilateral amygdalae, bilateral hippocampi and vmPFC as compared with healthy individuals. In the firefighter group, stronger insula–amygdala connectivity was associated with greater severity of trauma-related symptoms (β = 0.36, P = 0.005), whereas higher insula–vmPFC connectivity was related to milder symptoms in response to repeated trauma (β = −0.28, P = 0.01).
The current findings suggest an active involvement of insular functional connectivity in response to repeated traumatic stress. Functional connectivity of the insula in relation to the amygdala and vmPFC may be potential pathways that underlie the risk for and resilience to repeated traumatic stress, respectively.
Background:ATP8A2 mutations have only recently been associated with human disease. We present the clinical features from the largest cohort of patients with this disorder reported to date. Methods: An observational study of 9 unreported and 2 previously reported patients with biallelic ATP8A2 mutations was carried out at multiple centres. Results: The mean age of the cohort was 9.4 years old (range: 2.5-28 yrs). All patients demonstrated developmental delay, severe hypotonia and movement disorders: chorea/choreoathetosis (100%), dystonia (27%) or facial dyskinesia (18%). Hypotonia was apparent at birth (70%) or before 6 months old (100%). Optic atrophy was observed in 75% of patients who had a funduscopic examination. MRI of the brain was normal for most patients with a small proportion showing mild cortical atrophy (30%), delayed myelination (20%) and/or hypoplastic optic nerves (20%). Epilepsy was seen in two older patients. Conclusions:ATP8A2 gene mutations have emerged as a cause of a novel phenotype characterized by developmental delay, severe hypotonia and hyperkinetic movement disorders. Optic atrophy is common and may only become apparent in the first few years of life, necessitating repeat ophthalmologic evaluation. Early recognition of the cardinal features of this condition will facilitate diagnosis of this disorder.