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Almost all creatinine is excreted by the kidney in individuals. Serum creatinine concentration, a widely used renal function index in clinical practice, can be affected by both genetic and environmental factors, as evidenced by current research exploring the relationship between these factors and kidney function. However, few studies have explored the heritability of serum creatinine in Asian populations. Therefore, we explored the genetic and environmental factors that affect the serum creatinine level in Asian populations. Participants in this study came from the Qingdao Twin Registry in China, and 374 pairs of twins were included, of which 139 pairs were dizygotic twins, whose ages ranged from 40 to 80 years old, and the serum creatinine level ranged from 10 to 126 μmol/L. Structural equation models were constructed using Mx software to calculate heritability, with adjusted covariates being age, sex, and body mass index. The results of heritability analysis showed that ACE was the best fit model. Serum creatinine level is influenced by genetic and environmental factors. The result of heritability was 35.44%, and the influence of shared environmental factors accounted for 52.13%. This study provided the relevant basis for future research on genetic and environmental factors affecting serum creatinine levels in Asian populations.
An abnormal alanine aminotransferase (ALT) level is predictive of disease and all-cause mortality and may indicate liver injury. Using twin modeling, the genetic and environmental factors that affect human serum ALT levels have been well studied for the populations in the different countries, and the results showed moderate-to-high heritability. However, the heritability of ALT level has not been explored in Chinese population. Thus, we recruited 369 pairs of twins (233 monozygotic and 136 dizygotic) from the Qingdao Twin Registry in China with a median age of 50 years (40−80 years). Correlation analysis and a structural equation model (SEM) were conducted to evaluate the heritability of ALT level. The data for age, gender, body mass index and alcohol consumption were set as covariates. Intrapair correlation in monozygotic twins was 0.64 (95%CI [.56, .71]) and 0.42 (95% CI [.28, .55]) in dizygotic twins. The SEM analysis indicated that 65% (95% CI [57%, 71%]) of the variation in ALT levels can be explained by additive genetics and 35% (95% CI [29%, 44%]) of the variation is attributed to unique environmental factors or residuals. Shared environmental influences were not significant. In conclusion, serum ALT variations exhibited strong genetic effects. The variation could also be explained by unique environmental factors. However, shared environmental factors have a minor impact on the serum ALT level.
We explored the genetic architecture of metabolic risk factors of cardiovascular diseases (CVDs) and their clustering in Chinese boys and girls. Seven metabolic traits (body mass index [BMI], waist circumference [WC], systolic blood pressure [SBP], diastolic blood pressure [DBP], total cholesterol [TC], triglyceride [TG], and uric acid [UA]) were measured in a sample of 1016 twins between 8 and 17 years of age, recruited from the Qingdao Twin Registry. Cholesky, independent pathway, and common pathway models were used to identify the latent genetic structure behind the clustering of these metabolic traits. Genetic architecture of these metabolic traits was largely similar in boys and girls. The highest heritability was found for BMI (a2 = 0.63) in boys and TC (a2 = .69) in girls. Three heritable factors, adiposity (BMI and WC), blood pressure (SBP and DBP), and metabolite factors (TC, TG, and UA), which formed one higher-order latent phenotype, were identified. Latent genetic, common environmental, and unique environmental factors indirectly impacted the three factors through one single latent factor. Our results suggest that there is one latent factor influencing several metabolic traits, which are known risk factors of CVDs in young Chinese twins. Latent genetic, common environmental, and unique environmental factors indirectly imposed on them. These results inform strategies for gene pleiotropic discovery and intervening of CVD risk factors during childhood and adolescence.
The genetic and environmental impacts on correlations between hearing and cognitive functions have not been well studied. Cognitive function was evaluated by the Montreal Cognitive Assessment (MoCA). Hearing function was assessed by audiometric pure-tone hearing thresholds at different frequencies, including 0.5 kHz, 1 kHz, 2 kHz, 4 kHz, 8 kHz, and 12.5 kHz, with the lower hearing thresholds indicating better hearing function. Cognitive and hearing functions were measured on 379 complete twin pairs (240 monozygotic and 139 dizygotic pairs) with a median age of 50 years (range: 40–80 years). Bivariate twin models were fitted to quantify the genetic and environmental components of the correlations between hearing and cognitive functions. The analysis showed significantly high genetic correlation between 2 kHz of hearing and cognition (rG = −1.00, 95% CI [−1.00, −0.46]) and moderate genetic correlation between 4 kHz of hearing and cognition (rG = −0.62, 95% CI [−1.00, −0.14]). We found no significant genetic correlations between low as well as high frequencies of hearing and cognition. Low to moderate common and unique environmental correlations were shown between low frequencies of hearing and cognition (−0.13 to −0.39) and the common environmental correlation between 8 kHz, one of the high frequencies of hearing, and cognition (−0.22). The middle frequencies of hearing and cognitive functions may have a shared genetic basis. Low frequencies of hearing and cognition may share similar common and unique environmental factors. At 8 kHz, the high frequency of hearing and cognition may share similar common environment. This twin study detected a significant genetic and environmental basis in the phenotype correlation between cognition and hearing, which differed across frequencies.
Genetic and environmental influences on predictors of decline in daily functioning, including forced expiratory volume in 1 s (FEV1), forced vital capacity (FVC), handgrip, and five-times-sit-to-stand test (FTSST), have not been addressed in the aging Chinese population. We performed classical twin modeling on FEV1, FVC, handgrip, and FTSST in 379 twin pairs (240 MZ and 139 DZ) with median age of 50 years (40–80 years). Data were analyzed by fitting univariate and bivariate twin models to estimate the genetic and environmental influences on these measures of physical function. Heritability was moderate for FEV1, handgrip, and FTSST (55–60%) but insignificant for FVC. Only FVC showed moderate control, with shared environmental factors accounting for about 50% of the total variance. In contrast, all measures of pulmonary function and muscle strength showed modest influences from the unique environment (40–50%). Bivariate analysis showed highly positive genetic correlations between FEV1 and FVC (rG = 1.00), and moderately negative genetic correlations between FTSST and FEV1 (rG = −0.33) and FVC (rG = −0.42). FEV1 and FVC, as well as FEV1 and handgrip, displayed high common environmental correlations (rC = 1.00), and there were moderate correlations between FVC and handgrip (rC = 0.44). FEV1 and FVC showed high unique environmental correlations (rE = 0.76) and low correlations between handgrip and FEV1 (rE = 0.17), FVC (rE = 0.14), and FTSST (rE = −0.13) with positive or negative direction. We conclude that genetic factors contribute significantly to the individual differences in common indicators of daily functioning (FEV1, handgrip, and FTSST). FEV1 and FVC were genetically and environmentally correlated. Pulmonary function and FTSST may share similar sets of genes but in the negative direction. Pulmonary function and muscle strength may have a shared environmental background.
The genetic influences on aging-related phenotypes, including cognition and depression, have been well confirmed in the Western populations. We performed the first twin-based analysis on cognitive performance, memory and depression status in middle-aged and elderly Chinese twins, representing the world's largest and most rapidly aging population. The sample consisted of 384 twin pairs with a median age of 50 years. Cognitive function was measured using the Montreal Cognitive Assessment (MoCA) scale; memory was assessed using the revised Wechsler Adult Intelligence scale; depression symptomatology was evaluated by the self-reported 30-item Geriatric Depression (GDS-30)scale. Both univariate and multivariate twin models were fitted to the three phenotypes with full and nested models and compared to select the best fitting models. Univariate analysis showed moderate-to-high genetic influences with heritability 0.44 for cognition and 0.56 for memory. Multivariate analysis by the reduced Cholesky model estimated significant genetic (rG = 0.69) and unique environmental (rE = 0.25) correlation between cognitive ability and memory. The model also estimated weak but significant inverse genetic correlation for depression with cognition (-0.31) and memory (-0.28). No significant unique environmental correlation was found for depression with other two phenotypes. In conclusion, there can be a common genetic architecture for cognitive ability and memory that weakly correlates with depression symptomatology, but in the opposite direction.
We evaluated the genetic and environmental contributions to metabolic cardiovascular risk factors and their mutual associations. Eight metabolic factors (body mass index, waist circumference, waist-to-hip ratio, systolic blood pressure, diastolic blood pressure, total serum cholesterol, serum triglycerides, and serum uric acid) were measured in 508 twin pairs aged 8–17 years from the Qingdao Twin Registry, China. Linear structural equation models were used to estimate the heritability of these traits, as well as the genetic and environmental correlations between them. Among boys, body mass index and uric acid showed consistently high heritability (0.49–0.81), whereas other traits showed moderate to high common environmental variance (0.37–0.73) in children (8–12 years) and adolescents (13–17 years) except total cholesterol. For girls, moderate to high heritability (0.39–0.75) were obtained for six metabolic traits in children, while only two traits showed high heritability and others mostly medium to large common environmental variance in adolescents. Genetic correlations between the traits were strong in both boys and girls in children (rg = 0.64–0.99 between body mass index and diastolic blood pressure; rg = 0.71–1.00 between body mass index and waist circumference), but decreased for adolescent girls (rg = 0.51 between body mass index and waist-to-hip ratio; rg = 0.55 between body mass index and uric acid; rg = 0.61 between body mass index and systolic blood pressure). The effect of genetic factors on most metabolic traits decreased from childhood to adolescence. Both common genetic and specific environmental factors influence the mutual associations among most of the metabolic traits.
In 1998, the Qingdao Twin Registry was initiated as the main part of the Chinese National Twin Registry. By 2005, a total of 10,655 twin pairs had been recruited. Since then new twin cohorts have been sampled, with one longitudinal cohort of adolescent twins selected to explore determinants of metabolic disorders and health behaviors during puberty and young adulthood. Adult twins have been sampled for studying heritability of multiple phenotypes associated with metabolic disorders. In addition, an elderly twin cohort has been recruited with a focus on genetic studies of aging-related phenotypes using twin modeling and genome-wide association analysis. Cross-cultural collaborative studies have been carried out between China, Denmark, Finland, and US cohorts. Ongoing data collection and analysis for the Qingdao Twin Registry will be discussed in this article.
Elevated pulse pressure is associated with cardiovascular disorders and mortality in various populations. The genetic influence on pulse pressure has been confirmed by heritability estimates using related individuals. Recently, efforts have been made in mapping genes that are linked to the phenotype. We report results on our heritability and linkage study conducted on the Chinese population in mainland China where cardiovascular and cerebrovascular diseases are becoming the leading cause of death. A total of 630 pairs of middle-aged Chinese twins were collected for heritability analysis, from which 63 dizygotic twin pairs were randomly selected for genome-wide linkage analysis using Affymetrix 6.0 SNP array. Regression analysis reconfirmed the significant effects of age, sex, and BMI on pulse pressure. Comparison of twin models suggested the parsimonious AE model as the best model with a heritability estimate of 0.45. Genome-wide non-parametric linkage analysis identified three significant linkage peaks on chromosome 11 (lod score 4.06 at 30.5 cM), chromosome 12 (lod score 3.97 at 100.7 cM), and chromosome 18 (lod score 4.01 at 70.7 cM) with the last two peaks closely overlapping with linkage peaks reported by two American studies. In addition, multiple regions with suggestive linkage were identified with many of them overlapping with published linkage regions. Our results provide both epidemiological and molecular genetic evidence for the genetic dissection of pulse pressure in the Chinese population, which could help in fine mapping and in characterizing genes that are involved in the regulation of pulse pressure.
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