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Although recognized as one of the most significant cultural transformations in North America, the reintroduction of the horse to the continent after AD 1492 has been rarely addressed by archaeological science. A key contributing factor behind this limited study is the apparent absence of equine skeletal remains from early historic archaeological contexts. Here, we present a multidisciplinary analysis of a horse skeleton recovered in Lehi, Utah, originally attributed to the Pleistocene. Reanalysis of stratigraphic context and radiocarbon dating indicates a historic age for this horse (cal AD 1681–1939), linking it with Ute or other Indigenous groups, whereas osteological features demonstrate its use for mounted horseback riding—perhaps with a nonframe saddle. DNA analysis indicates that the animal was a female domestic horse, which was likely cared for as part of a breeding herd despite outliving its usefulness in transport. Finally, sequentially sampled stable carbon, oxygen, and strontium isotope values from tooth enamel (δ13C, δ18O, and 87Sr/86Sr) suggest that the horse was raised locally. These results show the utility of archaeological science as applied to horse remains in understanding Indigenous horse pastoralism, whereas consideration of the broader archaeological record suggests a pattern of misidentification of horse bones from early historic contexts.
Non-alcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD) is a significant public health concern closely linked to obesity, affecting an estimated 25% of adults in Europe. Understudied in Ireland, the aim of this research was to examine the effects of a 12-week multi-component dietary intervention on weight loss and markers of liver injury in Irish NAFLD patients in tertiary care. Biopsy confirmed NAFLD patients (n = 27) were recruited from St James’ Hospital in Dublin, Ireland. Consenting participants underwent a 12-week moderate-intensity intervention incorporating weekly group nutritional education, behavioural change and group support, as well as individualised advice and weigh-ins from a trained nutritionist. Control group participants were given routine clinical care. All participants were clinically reviewed before, immediately after, and 3 months post intervention. Individuals (n = 12) with histological evidence of steatohepatitis underwent a repeat liver biopsy on completion of the intervention. Detailed dietary assessment was performed using both a 4-day diet diary (4DDD) and a novel, recently validated, short food frequency questionnaire (SFFQ) designed specifically to assess habitual intakes of food items related to NAFLD. Nutrient intakes were analysed using myFood24TM dietary analysis software, and the Mediterranean diet quality score (MDQS) was used to assess the overall change in dietary patterns. Of the 15 participants who completed the intervention, 80% (n = 12) achieved a weight loss exceeding 5%, with 47% (n = 7) achieving > 7%. There were significant improvements from baseline to week 12 in the intervention group for the majority of clinical parameters including HbA1c (p = 0.0054), liver enzymes (ALT, p = 0.0108; GGT, p = 0.0001) and transient elastography (kPA, p = 0.0308; CAP, p = 0.0081). However, these results failed to maintain significance when analysed compared to controls. The overall dietary pattern was significantly improved after 12 weeks as assessed by the MDQS (p = 0.03), with no apparent compromise in micronutrient intake despite the energy reduction. Reductions in energy, saturated fat, carbohydrate and sugar intakes at 12 weeks, were maintained at three months follow up. Analysis of pre- and post-intervention liver biopsies in the intervention group demonstrated a clinically significant improvement in NAS score (p = 0.0273), attributable to reductions in hepatic steatosis (p = 0.0078). A significant correlation was observed between improvement in liver histology and change in sugar intake (r = 0.7534, p = 0.0093). Although results were somewhat limited by small sample size, nutritional education achieved beneficial dietary changes that persisted after the intervention ceased. Notably, achieving reductions in sugar intakes may be particularly beneficial in reducing the severity of hepatic steatosis in Irish adults with NAFLD.
Perinatal depression is a depressive illness that affects 10–15% of women in the UK with an estimated cost of £1.8 billion/year. Zinc deficiency is associated with the development of mood disorders and zinc supplementation has been shown to help reduce the symptoms of depression. Women who are pregnant and breastfeeding are at risk of lower levels of zinc because of the high demand from the developing and feeding baby. However, studies in the perinatal period are limited. With a long-term aim of designing a randomised controlled trial (RCT) to examine if zinc supplementation reduces depressive symptoms in pregnant and lactating women;the objective of this review was to systematically evaluate previous RCTs assessing zinc supplementation and depressive symptoms, in order to establish a zinc dosing regimen with regards to Galenic formulation, unit dose and frequency. The review was conducted by independent reviewers in accordance with PRISMA guidelines and is registered at Prospero (CRD42017059205). The Allied and Complimentary Medicine, CINAHL, Embase, MEDLINE, PsycINFO, PubMed, and Cochrane databases were searched since records began, with no restrictions, for intervention trials assessing Galenic formulation, unit dose and frequency of zinc supplementation to reduce the symptoms of depression. From a total of 66 identified records, 7 articles met the inclusion and exclusion criteria; all assessed the effect of zinc supplementation on mood. Risk of bias was independently assessed using the standard ‘Cochrane risk of bias tool’. Overall, 5 of the 7 papers were rated as high-quality trials; of the other two, one was rated poor and the other fair but both had a number of learning points. Preliminary findings indicate at the end of supplementing zinc, depression scores were reduced significantly. In one study, the Beck score decreased in the placebo group, but this reduction was not significant compared to the baseline. In two of the studies there was a significant correlation between serum zinc and self-reported mood questionnaires. Results also suggest that 25 mg zinc supplementation combined with antidepressant drugs can be effective in the treatment of major depression in women. This supports other work where researchers supplemented 25 mg of elemental zinc for 12 weeks or longer and found a reduction of symptoms in both pregnant and non-pregnant women. Thus, an early conclusion is that 25 mg of elemental zinc is an effective dose for improving low mood and is achievable in a trial setting.
Twin studies are one of the main tools for studying the interaction between genes and the environment in the development of complex diseases such as cancers, cardiovascular diseases and diabetes. The Isfahan Twin Registry (ITR) was launched in Isfahan in 2017 as a pilot study to establish a nationwide twin registry in Iran and aims to obtain comprehensive information about complex diseases and their risk factors from twins and multiples living in Isfahan. ITR will continue to recruit twins and multiples until all twins residing in Isfahan are registered in the registry. Twins are identified from welfare agencies, public health homes, maternity hospitals, Persian Twins Association and the local media. Demographic information, twin similarities, lifestyle, family history of diseases and past medical history are collected using validated questionnaires. Anthropometric measurements and blood pressure are measured by health professionals. Hematology panel, fasting blood sugar, total cholesterol, low-density lipoprotein, high-density lipoprotein, aspartate aminotransferase, alanine aminotransferase and quantitative C-reactive protein are measured by an automated analyzer. Extra samples are obtained for future studies. For twins aged under 6 years, parents complete the questionnaires for their children and a brief questionnaire for themselves. Currently, 998 persons (395 pairs and 67 multiples) are registered in the ITR and have provided their data. Results of preliminary data analysis are discussed in this article. We plan to carry out longitudinal assessments. ITR can play an important role in future epigenetic, biomarkers and omics studies using the biobank materials.
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.
The South Korean Twin Registry (SKTR) is an ongoing nationwide volunteer registry of South Korean twins and their families. Since its inception, from preschooler to young adult, twins have been registered with the SKTR and have demonstrated that relative influences of genetic and environmental factors explaining individual differences in various psychological, mental health and physical traits in South Koreans are similar to those found in many Western twin studies. Currently, studies at the SKTR focus on identification of the process of gene-by-environment interactions as well as developmental differences in genetic and environmental influences on psychological and mental health traits in South Koreans. This report provides a brief overview, recruitment strategies, current samples, zygosity assessment, measures and future directions of the SKTR.
The Arizona Twin Project is an ongoing longitudinal study designed to elucidate gene–environment interplay underlying the development of risk and resilience to common mental and physical health problems during infancy, childhood and adolescence. Specificity of risk is carefully examined across mental and physical health and how these influences vary across socioeconomic and sociocultural environments. Participants are a sample of approximately 700 twins (31% Latinx) recruited from birth records in the state of Arizona, USA. Twins are 32% monozygotic twins, 36% same-sex dizygotic (DZ), 32% opposite-sex DZ, currently 10–11 years of age. Primary caregivers were interviewed on twins’ development and early physical and social environments when twins were 1, 2 and 5 years of age. In-depth objective measurement commenced in middle childhood, with in-person assessments at 8–11 years of age, with plans to continue to follow the sample across adolescence. Middle childhood measures focus on children’s physical and mental health, including diurnal cortisol, actigraphy-based measures of sleep and activity, cold pressor task assessing acute pain, and reaction time tasks assessing executive functioning. Preliminary findings illustrate that objective assessments of children’s health are highly heritable, but they do not always share genetic etiology with more commonly used subjective assessments. Exposure to early adversity moderates genetic influences on both executive functioning and health, with higher heritability typically seen under adverse conditions. Future directions include an examination of how pubertal stage affects genetic and environmental influences on diurnal cortisol, sleep, chronic pain, and mental health.
This article explores the justification for providing separate experiences for twins. The focus is on Dorothy Burlingham’s (1952; Twins: A study of three sets of identical twins with 30 charts. London, UK: Imago) classic, in-depth study of three identical twin-pairs. Implications for how twins are raised currently will be examined. Reviews are presented of twin research concerning monozygotic twins with maturity-onset diabetes, gene editing of fetal Chinese twins, educational disadvantage of early-born twins, and developmental trajectories of twins’ prenatal movements. Some unusual experiences and situations involving twins that warrant media attention are also summarized. They include twins with nearly identical license plates, a rare case of fetus-in-fetu, twin brothers killed at Pearl Harbor, the death of a 96-year-old twin Holocaust survivor, the accidental death of male–female twin toddlers in a heated car and confusion over identical twin politicians.
The Keio Twin Research Center (KoTReC) was established in 2009 at Keio University to combine two longitudinal cohort projects — the Keio Twin Study (KTS) for adolescence and adulthood and the Tokyo Twin Cohort Project (ToTCoP) for infancy and childhood. KoTReC also conducted a two-time panel study of self-control and psychopathology in twin adolescence in 2012 and 2013 and three independent anonymous cross-sectional twin surveys (ToTcross) before 2012 — the ToTCross, the Junior and Senior High School Survey and the High School Survey. This article introduces the recent research designs of KoTReC and its publications.
The Minnesota Center for Twin and Family Research (MCTFR) comprises multiple longitudinal, community-representative investigations of twin and adoptive families that focus on psychological adjustment, personality, cognitive ability and brain function, with a special emphasis on substance use and related psychopathology. The MCTFR includes the Minnesota Twin Registry (MTR), a cohort of twins who have completed assessments in middle and older adulthood; the Minnesota Twin Family Study (MTFS) of twins assessed from childhood and adolescence into middle adulthood; the Enrichment Study (ES) of twins oversampled for high risk for substance-use disorders assessed from childhood into young adulthood; the Adolescent Brain (AdBrain) study, a neuroimaging study of adolescent twins; and the Siblings Interaction and Behavior Study (SIBS), a study of adoptive and nonadoptive families assessed from adolescence into young adulthood. Here we provide a brief overview of key features of these established studies and describe new MCTFR investigations that follow up and expand upon existing studies or recruit and assess new samples, including the MTR Study of Relationships, Personality, and Health (MTR-RPH); the Colorado-Minnesota (COMN) Marijuana Study; the Adolescent Brain Cognitive Development (ABCD) study; the Colorado Online Twins (CoTwins) study and the Children of Twins (CoT) 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.
The Wisconsin Twin Project encompasses nearly 30 years of longitudinal research that spans infancy to early adulthood. The twin sample was recruited from statewide birth records for birth cohorts 1989–2004. We summarize early recruitment, assessment, retention and recently completed twin neuroimaging studies. In addition to the focal twins, longitudinal data were also collected from two parents and nontwin siblings. Our adolescent and young adult neuroimaging sample (N = 600) completed several previous behavioral and environmental assessments, beginning shortly after birth. The extensive phenotyping is meant to support a range of empirical investigations with potentially differing theoretical perspectives.
The primary aim of the Guangzhou Twin Eye Study (GTES) is to explore the impact that genes and environmental inﬂuences have on common eye diseases. Since 2006, approximately 1300 pairs of twins, aged 7–15 years, were enrolled at baseline. Progressive phenotypes, such as cycloplegic refraction, axial length, height and weight, have been collected annually. Nonprogressive phenotypes such as parental refraction, corneal thickness, fundus photo, intraocular pressure and DNA were collected once at baseline. We are collaborating with fellow international twin researchers and psychologists to further explore links with general medical conditions. In this article, we review the history, major findings and future research directions for the GTES.
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.