To save content items to your account,
please confirm that you agree to abide by our usage policies.
If this is the first time you use this feature, you will be asked to authorise Cambridge Core to connect with your account.
Find out more about saving content to .
To save content items to your Kindle, first ensure firstname.lastname@example.org
is added to your Approved Personal Document E-mail List under your Personal Document Settings
on the Manage Your Content and Devices page of your Amazon account. Then enter the ‘name’ part
of your Kindle email address below.
Find out more about saving to your Kindle.
Note you can select to save to either the @free.kindle.com or @kindle.com variations.
‘@free.kindle.com’ emails are free but can only be saved to your device when it is connected to wi-fi.
‘@kindle.com’ emails can be delivered even when you are not connected to wi-fi, but note that service fees apply.
The present study examines whether neuroticism is predicted by genetic vulnerability, summarized as polygenic risk score for neuroticism (PRSN), in interaction with bullying, parental bonding, and childhood adversity. Data were derived from a general population adolescent and young adult twin cohort. The final sample consisted of 202 monozygotic and 436 dizygotic twins and 319 twin pairs. The Short Eysenck Personality questionnaire was used to measure neuroticism. PRSN was trained on the results from the Genetics of Personality Consortium (GPC) and United Kingdom Biobank (UKB) cohorts, yielding two different PRSN. Multilevel mixed-effects models were used to analyze the main and interacting associations of PRSN, childhood adversity, bullying, and parental bonding style with neuroticism. We found no evidence of gene–environment correlation. PRSN thresholds of .005 and .2 were chosen, based on GPC and UKB datasets, respectively. After correction for confounders, all the individual variables were associated with the expression of neuroticism: both PRSN from GPC and UKB, childhood adversity, maternal bonding, paternal bonding, and bullying in primary school and secondary school. However, the results indicated no evidence for gene–environment interaction in this cohort. These results suggest that genetic vulnerability on the one hand and negative life events (childhood adversity and bullying) and positive life events (optimal parental bonding) on the other represent noninteracting pathways to neuroticism.
Meta-analyses suggest that clinical psychopathology is preceded by dimensional behavioral and cognitive phenotypes such as psychotic experiences, executive functioning, working memory and affective dysregulation that are determined by the interplay between genetic and nongenetic factors contributing to the severity of psychopathology. The liability to mental ill health can be psychometrically measured using experimental paradigms that assess neurocognitive processes such as salience attribution, sensitivity to social defeat and reward sensitivity. Here, we describe the TwinssCan, a longitudinal general population twin cohort, which comprises 1202 individuals (796 adolescent/young adult twins, 43 siblings and 363 parents) at baseline. The TwinssCan is part of the European Network of National Networks studying Gene-Environment Interactions in Schizophrenia project and recruited from the East Flanders Prospective Twin Survey. The main objective of this project is to understand psychopathology by evaluating the contribution of genetic and nongenetic factors on subclinical expressions of dimensional phenotypes at a young age before the onset of disorder and their association with neurocognitive processes, such as salience attribution, sensitivity to social defeat and reward sensitivity.
The East Flanders Prospective Twin Survey (EFPTS) is a registry of multiple births in the province of East Flanders, Belgium. Since its start in 1964, over 10,000 twin-pairs have been registered. EFPTS has several unique features: it is population-based and prospective, with the possibility of long-term follow-up; the twins (and higher order multiple births) are recruited at birth; basic perinatal data are recorded; chorion type and zygosity are established; since 1969, placental biopsies have been taken and frozen at –20°C for future research. Since its origin, the EFPTS has included placental data and allows differentiation of three subtypes of monozygotic twins based on the time of the initial zygotic division: the dichorionic–diamniotic pairs (early, with splitting before the fourth day after fertilization), the monochorionic–diamniotic pairs (intermediate, splitting between the fourth- and the seventh-day postfertilization) and the monochorionic–monoamniotic pairs (late, splitting after the eighth day postfertilization). Studies can be initiated taking into account primary biases, those originating ‘in utero’. Such studies could throw new light on the consequences of early embryological events and the gene–environment interactions as far as periconceptional and intrauterine environment are concerned.
Whether monozygotic (MZ) and dizygotic (DZ) twins differ from each other in a variety of phenotypes is important for genetic twin modeling and for inferences made from twin studies in general. We analyzed whether there were differences in individual, maternal and paternal education between MZ and DZ twins in a large pooled dataset. Information was gathered on individual education for 218,362 adult twins from 27 twin cohorts (53% females; 39% MZ twins), and on maternal and paternal education for 147,315 and 143,056 twins respectively, from 28 twin cohorts (52% females; 38% MZ twins). Together, we had information on individual or parental education from 42 twin cohorts representing 19 countries. The original education classifications were transformed to education years and analyzed using linear regression models. Overall, MZ males had 0.26 (95% CI [0.21, 0.31]) years and MZ females 0.17 (95% CI [0.12, 0.21]) years longer education than DZ twins. The zygosity difference became smaller in more recent birth cohorts for both males and females. Parental education was somewhat longer for fathers of DZ twins in cohorts born in 1990–1999 (0.16 years, 95% CI [0.08, 0.25]) and 2000 or later (0.11 years, 95% CI [0.00, 0.22]), compared with fathers of MZ twins. The results show that the years of both individual and parental education are largely similar in MZ and DZ twins. We suggest that the socio-economic differences between MZ and DZ twins are so small that inferences based upon genetic modeling of twin data are not affected.
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.
Poor sleep is a risk factor for depression, but little is known about the underlying mechanisms.
Disentangling potential mechanisms by which sleep may be related to depression by zooming downto the ‘micro-level’ of within-person daily life patterns of subjective sleep and affect usingthe experience sampling method (ESM).
A population-based twin sample consisting of 553 women underwent a 5-day baseline ESM protocolassessing subjective sleep and affect together with four follow-up assessments of depression.
Sleep was associated with affect during the next day, especially positive affect. Daytime negative affect was not associated with subsequent night-time sleep. Baseline sleep predicted depressive symptoms across the follow-up period.
The subtle, repetitive impact of sleep on affect on a daily basis, rather than the subtle repetitive impact of affect on sleep, may be one of the factors on the pathway to depression in women.
FK506 binding protein 5 (FKBP5) has repeatedly been shown to be a critical determinant of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and depression following childhood trauma.
To examine the role of FKBP5-trauma interactions in the partly stress-related psychosis phenotype.
In 401 general population twins, four functional polymorphisms were examined in models of psychosis and Cortisol, and followed up in models of psychosis in three samples at different familial liability (175 controls, 200 unaffected siblings and 195 patients with a psychotic disorder).
The most consistent finding was an interaction between childhood trauma and rs9296158/rs4713916 on psychotic symptoms and Cortisol in the twin sample, combined with a directionally similar interaction in siblings (rs4713916) and patients (rs9296158), A-allele carriers at both polymorphisms being most vulnerable to trauma.
Trauma may increase the risk of psychosis through enduring changes in the Cortisol feedback loop, similar to that for PTSD, suggesting comparable biological mechanisms for psychosis across diagnostic boundaries.
The East Flanders Prospective Twin Survey (EFPTS) is a prospective, population-based registry of multiple births in the province of East-Flanders, Belgium. EFPTS has several unique features: it is population-based and prospective, with the possibility of long-term follow-up; the twins (and higher order multiple births) are recruited at birth; basic perinatal data recorded; chorion type and zygosity established; and since 1969 placental biopsies have been taken and frozen at −20 °C for later determination of genetic markers. The EFPTS is the only large register that includes placental data and allows differentiation of three subtypes of monozygotic (MZ) twins based on the time of the initial zygotic division: the dichorionic–diamnionic pairs (early, with splitting before the fourth day after fertilization), the monochorionic–diamnionic pairs (intermediate, splitting between the fourth and the seventh day post-fertilization), and the monochorionic–monoamnionic pairs (late, splitting after the eighth day post-fertilization). Studies can be initiated taking into account primary biases, those originating ‘in utero’. Such studies could throw new light on the controversy over the validity of the classic twin method, the consequences of early embryological events, and the gene–environment interactions as far as periconceptional and intrauterine environment are concerned.
Twins are not a homogeneous group. According to zygosity and chorionicity essential differences exist. The lower sex proportion at birth is due to the monozygotic twins, especially the monoamnionic variety. X-inactivation patterns in monozygotic twin girls are totally symmetrical in monoamnionic pairs, almost symmetrical in monochorionic diamnionic pairs and can be very asymmetrical in the dichorionic variety.
The purpose of this study is to present curves of estimated placental growth in twins and to evaluate the relative contribution of gestational age, zygosity, chorionicity, fusion of the placentas, sex of the individual and of the twin pair, site of the umbilical cord insertion, birth order, maternal age, and parity. Perinatal data and placental data were obtained from 6315 live-born twin pairs from the East Flanders Prospective Twin Survey. Of 4318 twin pairs, with no missing values, the placental weights of different gestational ages were analyzed using a nonlinear multivariate Gaussian regression. Two groups were distinguished: (1) twins with two separate placentas, and (2) twins with only one placental mass (one placenta in case of monochorionic twins or two fused placentas in case of dichorionic placentas). Overall, placental weight was influenced by gestational age, fusion of the placentas, and parity. In the case of one placental mass, monozygotic dichorionic twins had the lowest weights. If two separate placentas were present, birth order played a role in favor of the first-born twin. For parity and zygosity, the differences were most pronounced between 27 and 29 weeks, whereas the difference for birth order was most pronounced between 33 and 37 weeks. In conclusion, basic physiological characteristics, routinely examined at birth, influence placental weight. Taking these covariates into account allows a better evaluation of the placental weight given a gestational age, as an indicator of growth.
Alongitudinal study of growth and physical fitness of twins and their parents was designed in 1985. The major aims of this Leuven Longitudinal Twin Study were to quantify the genetic and environmental determination of (1) somatic characteristics, biological maturation and physical performance characteristics during the growth process, (2) the growth and developmental patterns, and (3) the covariation in somatic and performance characteristics.
The assessment of fetal growth is an essential component of good antenatal care, especially for twins. The aims of this study are to develop twin-specific intrauterine 'growth' charts, based on cross-sectional birthweight data, for monochorionic and dichorionic twins according to sex and parity, and to detect twins at risk for neonatal death by comparing the use of twin-specific and singleton charts. The study sample consisted of 76,471 singletons and 8454 twins (4227 pairs) born in East Flanders (Belgium). Birthweights were analyzed using a nonlinear Gaussian regression. After 33 weeks of gestation, the birthweights of twins started to deviate from singletons (difference of 900 grams at 42 weeks). Birthweights of dichorionic twins continued to increase, whereas those of monochorionic twins decreased after week 40 (difference of more than 300 g at 42 weeks). After 31 weeks of gestation, neonatal mortality increased as centile decreased, and was especially high if birthweight was below the twin-specific third centile: .032 (below) versus .007 (above). Using singleton centiles, this was less obvious. In conclusion, twin-specific growth charts, taking chorionicity into account, are more accurate to detect twins at risk for neonatal death. Therefore the presented charts, based on cross-sectional birthweight data, enable an improved assessment of twin growth.
This article discusses findings of two recent studies conducted in collaboration with the East Flanders Prospective Twin Survey in the field of cognitive ability. The first study examined the effect of chorion type on heritability estimates of intelligence in children. The second study investigated the causes of association between child psychopathology and lower cognitive ability. Findings of these studies are discussed in the light of the current view on cognitive ability (or ‘g’) and recommendations for future research are made.
Unlike-sex twins provide a unique natural experiment to investigate the influence of sex on gestation. Our data showed that length of gestation of unlike-sex pairs is similar to that of female same-sex pairs, and significantly (0.4 wks, p = .02) longer than that of male same-sex pairs. Birthweight of female unlike-sex twins was similar to female same-sex twins, but male unlike-sex twins weighed 78 g more than male same-sex twins ( p = .001). These data show that in unlikesex pairs it is the girl that prolongs gestation for her brother, resulting in a higher birthweight than that of same-sex boys.
Both zygosity and chorionicity provide important information in twin research. The East Flanders Prospective Twin Survey (EFPTS) determines zygosity and chorionicity at birth and therefore provides a gold standard for the testing of diagnostic parameters that can be used to determine chorionicity. The aim of the present study was to investigate whether birthweight discordancy can be used as an indicator of chorionicity. The study sample consisted of 4,060 live-born twin pairs from the EFPTS. We studied MZ twins, using univariate and multivariate logistic regression analyses to calculate odds ratios (OR) and 95% confidence intervals (CI) of being MC in relation to discordancy level. Diagnostic parameters, including sensitivity and specificity, were calculated. A two-fold cross-validation was carried out and a bootstrap distribution with 10,000 samples was created to estimate the standard deviations. For discordancy levels of below 10%, 10–15%, 15–20%, 20–25% and above 25%, the ORs (95% CI) were 1.16 (0.91–1.47), 1.38 (1.05–1.80), 2.13 (1.51–3.01), 2.73 (1.73–4.29) and 2.81 (2.81–4.35) respectively. There were no gender differences. Sensitivity was 42.2% (SD 5.6%), specificity was 72.8% (SD 6.3%), positive predictive value was 72.8% (1.5%) and the negative predictive value was 39.2% (0.7%). In conclusion, although a higher discordancy level resulted in higher ORs of being an MC twin, birthweight discordancy level can only be used to some weak extent as a proxy for chorionicity, highlighting the need to assess and record chorionicity data in obstetrical units.
Insulin resistance and obesity are underlying causes of type 2 diabetes and therefore much interest is focused on the potential genes involved. A series of anthropometric and metabolic characteristic were measured in 240 MZ and 112 DZ twin pairs recruited from the East Flanders Prospective Twin Survey. Microsatellite markers located close to ABCC8, ADIPOQ, GCK, IGF1, IGFBP1, INSR, LEP, LEPR, PPARγ and the RETN gene were genotyped. Univariate single point variance components linkage analyses were performed using two methods: (1) the standard method, only comprising the phenotypic and genotypic data of the DZ twin pairs and (2) the extended method, also incorporating the phenotypic data of the MZ twin pairs. Suggestive linkages (LOD > 1) were observed between the ABCC8 marker and waist-to-hip ratio and HDL-cholesterol levels. Both markers flanking ADIPOQ showed suggestive linkage with triglycerides levels, the upstream marker also with body mass and HDL-cholesterol levels. The IGFBP1 marker showed suggestive linkage with fat mass, fasting insulin and leptin levels and the LEP marker showed suggestive linkage with birth weight. This study suggests that DNA variants in ABCC8, ADIPOQ, IGFBP1 and LEP gene region may predispose to type 2 diabetes. In addition, the two methods used to perform linkage analyses yielded similar results. This was however not the case for birth weight where chorionicity seems to be an important confounder.
The focus of research in depression is on negative affect. However, positive affect is under-investigated and plays an important role in resilience against depression by neutralizing the effects of genetic vulnerability to depression.
This study investigates the validity of retrospective determination of chorion type by asking the question to the mother about the number of placentas. In the “East Flanders Prospective Twin Survey” (EFPTS), accurate information on the placentation and zygosity of the multiples was collected prospectively. The mothers of 231 monozygotic (95 dichorionic and 136 monochorionic) twins and 255 dizygotic twins were asked to fill in a simple questionnaire regarding 1) the zygosity and 2) the number of placentas of their twins. The accuracy of the response to the question on “the number of placentas” was 60% for monozygotic twins and 37% for dizygotic twins. The accuracy of the response to the question on the zygosity of the twins was 93% for monozygotic and 95% for dizygotic twins. If the questionnaire was used for the determination of chorion type, a total of 31 monozygotic twins (13%) should have been assigned as dichorionic on the fact that there were two separate placentas. Of these, 10 (32%) are monochorionic and 12 (39%) were falsely reported as having two placentas. We conclude from these findings that this simple questionnaire method is unreliable for the retrospective determination of the chorion type.
The East Flanders Prospective Twin Survey (EFPTS), started in 1964, is unique among the 17 major European twin registers because it is population based, the twins (and higher order births) are ascertained at birth, basic perinatal data are collected, chorion type is established and, when appropriate, genetic markers including DNA fingerprints, are determined. The total number of sets is 5089 twin, 158 triplet and 14 of higher order. Zygosity has been diagnosed on the basis of sex, placental structure and genetic markers in more than 95% of pairs. The EFPTS is the only large register that includes placental data and allows differentiation of three subtypes of monozygotic twins based on the time of the initial zygotic division: the dichorionic—diamnionic pairs (early), the monochorionic—diamnionic pairs (intermediate), and the monochorionic—monoamnionic pairs (late). Methodology and basic results in twins are considered in this article; detailed studies will be reported later. The sex proportion in dizygotic (DZ) twins is the same as in singletons, whereas monozygotic (MZ) twins number more girls than boys. The difference in perinatal mortality between DZ and MZ twins is limited to the monochorionic MZ subgroup. Birth weight is highest in DZ twins and diminishes stepwise in MZ dichorionic and MZ monochorionic twins. Duration of pregnancy follows the same trend but is limited to a few days. Iatrogenic pregnancies are increasing to the point of representing almost 50% of the twin births in 1997.