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There are research questions whose answers require record linkage of multiple databases that may be characterized by limited options for full data sharing. For this purpose, the Open Data Infrastructure for Social Science and Economic Innovations (ODISSEI) consortium has supported the development of the ODISSEI Secure Supercomputer (OSSC) platform that allows researchers to link cohort data to data from Statistics Netherlands and run large-scale analyses in a high-performance computing (HPC) environment. Here, we report a successful record linkage genomewide association (GWA) study on expenditure for total health, mental health, primary and hospital care, and medication. Record linkage for genotype data from 16,726 participants from the Netherlands Twin Register (NTR) with data from Statistics Netherlands was accomplished in the secure OSSC platform, followed by gene-based tests and estimation of total and single nucleotide polymorphism (SNP)-based heritability. The total heritability of expenditure ranged between 29.4% (SE 0.8) and 37.5% (SE 0.8), but GWA analyses did not identify SNPs or genes that were genomewide significantly associated with health care expenditure. SNP-based heritability was between 0.0% (SE 3.5) and 5.4% (SE 4.0) and was different from zero for mental health care and primary care expenditure. We conclude that successfully linking genotype data to administrative health care expenditure data from Statistics Netherlands is feasible and demonstrates a series of analyses on health care expenditure. The OSSC platform offers secure possibilities for analyzing linked data in large scale and realizing sample sizes required for GWA studies, providing invaluable opportunities to answer many new research questions.
Loneliness is related to mental and somatic health outcomes, including borderline personality disorder. Here, we analyze the sources of variation that are responsible for the relationship between borderline personality features (including four dimensions, affective instability, identity disturbance, negative relationships, self-harm and a total score) and loneliness. Using genetically informative data from two large nonclinical samples of adult twin pairs from Australia and the Netherlands (N = 11,329), we estimate the phenotypic, genetic and environmental correlations between self-reported borderline personality features and loneliness. Individual differences in borderline personality and loneliness were best explained by additive genetic factors with heritability estimates h2 = 41% for the borderline personality total score and h2 = 36% for loneliness, with the remaining variation explained by environmental influences that were not shared by twins from the same pair. Genetic and environmental factors influencing borderline personality (total score and four subscales separately) were also partial causes of loneliness. The correlation between loneliness and the borderline personality total score was rph = .51. The genetic correlation was estimated at rg = .64 and the environmental correlation at re = .40. Our study suggests common etiological factors in loneliness and borderline personality features.
Spouses resemble each other for psychopathology, but data regarding spousal resemblance in externalizing psychopathology, and data regarding spousal resemblance across different syndromes (e.g. anxiety in wives and attention deficit/hyperactivity disorder [ADHD] in husbands) are limited. Moreover, knowledge is lacking regarding spousal resemblance in parents of children with psychiatric disorders. We investigated and compared spousal resemblance within and across internalizing and externalizing symptom domains in parents of children with and without psychopathology.
Symptoms of depression, anxiety, avoidant personality, ADHD, and antisocial personality were assessed with the Adult Self Report in 728 mothers and 544 fathers of 778 children seen in child and adolescent psychiatric outpatient clinics and in 2075 mothers and 1623 fathers of 2784 children from a population-based sample. Differences in symptom scores and spousal correlations between the samples were tested.
Parents in the clinical sample had higher symptom scores than in the population-based sample. In both samples, correlations within and across internalizing and externalizing domains of psychopathology were significant. Importantly, correlations were significantly higher in the clinical sample (P = 0.03). Correlations, within and across symptoms, ranged from 0.14 to 0.30 in the clinical sample and from 0.05 to 0.23 in the population-based sample.
This large study shows that spousal resemblance is not only present within but also across symptom domains. Especially in the clinical sample, ADHD symptoms in fathers and antisocial personality symptoms in mothers were correlated with a range of psychiatric symptoms in their spouses. Clinicians need to be alert of these multiple affected families.
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.
Objective: The human gut microbiota has been demonstrated to be associated with a number of host phenotypes, including obesity and a number of obesity-associated phenotypes. This study is aimed at further understanding and describing the relationship between the gut microbiota and obesity-associated measurements obtained from human participants. Subjects/Methods: Here, we utilize genetically informative study designs, including a four-corners design (extremes of genetic risk for BMI and of observed BMI; N = 50) and the BMI monozygotic (MZ) discordant twin pair design (N = 30), in order to help delineate the role of host genetics and the gut microbiota in the development of obesity. Results: Our results highlight a negative association between BMI and alpha diversity of the gut microbiota. The low genetic risk/high BMI group of individuals had a lower gut microbiota alpha diversity when compared to the other three groups. Although the difference in alpha diversity between the lean and heavy groups of the BMI-discordant MZ twin design did not achieve significance, this difference was observed to be in the expected direction, with the heavier participants having a lower average alpha diversity. We have also identified nine OTUs observed to be associated with either a leaner or heavier phenotype, with enrichment for OTUs classified to the Ruminococcaceae and Oxalobacteraceae taxonomic families. Conclusion: Our study presents evidence of a relationship between BMI and alpha diversity of the gut microbiota. In addition to these findings, a number of OTUs were found to be significantly associated with host BMI. These findings may highlight separate subtypes of obesity, one driven by genetic factors, the other more heavily influenced by environmental factors.
Twin registers are wonderful research resources for research applications in medical and behavioral genetics, epidemiology, psychology, molecular genetics, and other areas of research. New registers continue to be launched all over the world as researchers from different disciplines recognize the potential to boost and widen their research agenda. In this article, we discuss multiple aspects that need to be taken into account when initiating a register, from its preliminary sketch to its actual development. This encompasses aspects related to the strategic planning and key elements of research designs, promotion and management of a twin register, including recruitment and retaining of twins and family members of twins, phenotyping, database organization, and collaborations between registers. We also present information on questions unique to twin registers and twin-biobanks, such as the assessment of zygosity by SNP arrays, the design of (biomarker) studies involving related participants, and the analyses of clustered data. Altogether, we provide a number of basic guidelines and recommendations for reflection when planning a twin register.
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.
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.
Persistent tobacco use and excessive alcohol consumption are major public health concerns worldwide. Both alcohol and nicotine dependence (AD, ND) are genetically influenced complex disorders that exhibit a high degree of comorbidity. To identify gene variants contributing to one or both of these addictions, we first conducted a pooling-based genomewide association study (GWAS) in an Australian population, using Illumina Infinium 1M arrays. Allele frequency differences were compared between pooled DNA from case and control groups for: (1) AD, 1224 cases and 1162 controls; (2) ND, 1273 cases and 1113 controls; and (3) comorbid AD and ND, 599 cases and 488 controls. Secondly, we carried out a GWAS in independent samples from the Netherlands for AD and for ND. Thirdly, we performed a meta-analysis of the 10, 000 most significant AD- and ND-related SNPs from the Australian and Dutch samples. In the Australian GWAS, one SNP achieved genomewide significance (p < 5 x 10-8) for ND (rs964170 in ARHGAPlOon chromosome 4, p = 4.43 x 10”8) and three others for comorbid AD/ND (rs7530302 near MARK1 on chromosome 1 (p = 1.90 x 10-9), rs1784300 near DDX6 on chromosome 11 (p = 2.60 x 10-9) and rs12882384 in KIAA1409 on chromosome 14 (p = 4.86 x 10-8)). None of the SNPs achieved genomewide significance in the Australian/Dutch meta-analysis, but a gene network diagram based on the top-results revealed overrepre-sentation of genes coding for ion-channels and cell adhesion molecules. Further studies will be requirec before the detailed causes of comorbidity between AC and ND are understood.
Twin pairs discordant for disease may help elucidate the epigenetic mechanisms and causal environmental factors in disease development and progression. To obtain the numbers of pairs, especially monozygotic (MZ) twin pairs, necessary for in-depth studies while also allowing for replication, twin studies worldwide need to pool their resources. The Discordant Twin (DISCOTWIN) consortium was established for this goal. Here, we describe the DISCOTWIN Consortium and present an analysis of type 2 diabetes (T2D) data in nearly 35,000 twin pairs. Seven twin cohorts from Europe (Denmark, Finland, Norway, the Netherlands, Spain, Sweden, and the United Kingdom) and one from Australia investigated the rate of discordance for T2D in same-sex twin pairs aged 45 years and older. Data were available for 34,166 same-sex twin pairs, of which 13,970 were MZ, with T2D diagnosis based on self-reported diagnosis and medication use, fasting glucose and insulin measures, or medical records. The prevalence of T2D ranged from 2.6% to 12.3% across the cohorts depending on age, body mass index (BMI), and national diabetes prevalence. T2D discordance rate was lower for MZ (5.1%, range 2.9–11.2%) than for same-sex dizygotic (DZ) (8.0%, range 4.9–13.5%) pairs. Across DISCOTWIN, 720 discordant MZ pairs were identified. Except for the oldest of the Danish cohorts (mean age 79), heritability estimates based on contingency tables were moderate to high (0.47–0.77). From a meta-analysis of all data, the heritability was estimated at 72% (95% confidence interval 61–78%). This study demonstrated high T2D prevalence and high heritability for T2D liability across twin cohorts. Therefore, the number of discordant MZ pairs for T2D is limited. By combining national resources, the DISCOTWIN Consortium maximizes the number of discordant MZ pairs needed for in-depth genotyping, multi-omics, and phenotyping studies, which may provide unique insights into the pathways linking genes to the development of many diseases.
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.
Shorter telomere length (TL) has found to be associated with lower birth weight and with lower cognitive ability and psychiatric disorders. However, the direction of causation of these associations and the extent to which they are genetically or environmentally mediated are unclear. Within-pair comparisons of monozygotic (MZ) and dizygotic (DZ) twins can throw light on these questions. We investigated correlations of within pair differences in telomere length, IQ, and anxiety/depression in an initial sample from Brisbane (242 MZ pairs, 245 DZ same sex (DZSS) pairs) and in replication samples from Amsterdam (514 MZ pairs, 233 DZSS pairs) and Melbourne (19 pairs selected for extreme high or low birth weight difference). Intra-pair differences of birth weight and telomere length were significantly correlated in MZ twins, but not in DZSS twins. Greater intra-pair differences of telomere length were observed in the 10% of MZ twins with the greatest difference in birth weight compared to the bottom 90% in both samples and also in the Melbourne sample. Intra-pair differences of telomere length and IQ, but not of TL and anxiety/depression, were correlated in MZ twins, and to a smaller extent in DZSS twins. Our findings suggest that the same prenatal effects that reduce birth weight also influence telomere length in MZ twins. The association between telomere length and IQ is partly driven by the same prenatal effects that decrease birth weight.
The influence of genetic factors on major depressive disorder is lower than on other psychiatric disorders. Heritability estimates mainly derive from cross-sectional studies, and knowledge on the longitudinal aetiology of symptoms of anxiety and depression (SxAnxDep) across the lifespan is limited. We aimed to assess phenotypic, genetic and environmental stability in SxAnxDep between ages 3 and 63 years.
We used a cohort-sequential design combining data from 49 524 twins followed from birth to age ⩾20 years, and from adolescence into adulthood. SxAnxDep were assessed repeatedly with a maximum of eight assessments over a 25-year period. Data were ordered in 30 age groups and analysed with longitudinal genetic models.
Over age, there was a significant increase during adolescence in mean scores with sex differences (women>men) emerging. Heritability was high in childhood and decreased to 30–40% during adulthood. This decrease in heritability was due to an increase in environmental variance. Phenotypic stability was moderate in children (correlations across ages ~0.5) and high in adolescents (r = 0.6), young adults (r = 0.7), and adults (r = 0.8). Longitudinal stability was mostly attributable to genetic factors. During childhood and adolescence there was also significant genetic innovation, which was absent in adults. Environmental effects contributed to short-term stability.
The substantial stability in SxAnxDep is mainly due to genetic effects. The importance of environmental effects increases with age and explains the relatively low heritability of depression in adults. The environmental effects are transient, but the contribution to stability increases with age.
Cross-sectional and longitudinal studies have shown a positive association between attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) and problematic alcohol use in adults. To what extent this association is explained by genetic and environmental factors is largely unknown.
Data on ADHD and alcohol consumption were collected by self-report in 6024 adult Dutch twins. ADHD symptoms were assessed by three subscales of the Conners' Adult ADHD Rating Scales – Self-Report: Screening Version (CAARS–S:SV): inattentiveness, hyperactivity and the ADHD index (ADHD-I). Problem drinking was defined as at least two self-reported alcohol-related problems on the CAGE questionnaire. Structural equation modelling was applied to the bivariate twin data to estimate genetic and environmental influences.
Heritability of ADHD symptoms ranged between 32% and 40% and heritability of problem drinking was 50%. The positive correlation between ADHD symptoms and problem drinking was confirmed in this general population sample, with phenotypic correlations between 0.20 and 0.28 and genetic correlations between 0.39 and 0.50. Phenotypic correlations are primarily (61–100%) explained by genetic influences with non-shared environmental influences explaining the remaining covariance. No significant quantitative or qualitative gender differences in covariance structure were found.
This study convincingly shows that ADHD symptoms and problem drinking are moderately but significantly correlated in adults and that genetic correlations are primarily underlying this association. This suggests that early interventions are required to prevent adolescents with ADHD from developing problematic levels of alcohol use. Furthermore, clinicians who treat alcohol-dependent patients should be aware that the patient may have a co-morbid condition of ADHD; integrated interventions are required.
Until recently, hoarding was considered an obsessive–compulsive symptom (OCS). However, current evidence suggests that these two phenotypes may be clinically, and perhaps etiologically, distinct. Both hoarding and OCS have a genetic etiology, but the degree of unique and shared genetic contributions to these phenotypes has not been well studied.
Prevalence rates were assessed for hoarding and OCS in a sample of adult twin pairs (n = 7906 twins) and their family members from the Netherlands Twin Register (total sample = 15 914). Using Mplus, genetic analyses using liability threshold models were conducted for both phenotypes, for their co-morbidity, and for specific hoarding symptoms (cluttering, discarding and acquiring).
Of the total sample, 6.7% met criteria for clinically significant hoarding; endorsement of all three hoarding symptoms was ⩾79%. Men had slightly higher rates than women. Also, 5.7% met criteria for clinically significant OCS; rates were similar in males and females. Genetic factors accounted for 36% of the variance for hoarding and 40% of the variance for OCS. The genetic correlation between hoarding and OCS was 0.10. There was no evidence of sex-specific genetic contributions for hoarding or OCS. There was evidence for a genetic contribution to all hoarding symptom subtypes. Only cluttering showed evidence of a contribution from the shared environment.
OCS and hoarding are common in this population-based sample, have prevalence rates similar to those previously reported, and show significant heritability. Genetic factors contributed to the co-morbidity of both traits, although the genetic correlation between them was low.
It has been postulated that aging is the consequence of an accelerated accumulation of somatic DNA mutations and that subsequent errors in the primary structure of proteins ultimately reach levels sufficient to affect organismal functions. The technical limitations of detecting somatic changes and the lack of insight about the minimum level of erroneous proteins to cause an error catastrophe hampered any firm conclusions on these theories. In this study, we sequenced the whole genome of DNA in whole blood of two pairs of monozygotic (MZ) twins, 40 and 100 years old, by two independent next-generation sequencing (NGS) platforms (Illumina and Complete Genomics). Potentially discordant single-base substitutions supported by both platforms were validated extensively by Sanger, Roche 454, and Ion Torrent sequencing. We demonstrate that the genomes of the two twin pairs are germ-line identical between co-twins, and that the genomes of the 100-year-old MZ twins are discerned by eight confirmed somatic single-base substitutions, five of which are within introns. Putative somatic variation between the 40-year-old twins was not confirmed in the validation phase. We conclude from this systematic effort that by using two independent NGS platforms, somatic single nucleotide substitutions can be detected, and that a century of life did not result in a large number of detectable somatic mutations in blood. The low number of somatic variants observed by using two NGS platforms might provide a framework for detecting disease-related somatic variants in phenotypically discordant MZ twins.
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 aim of this study was to investigate familial influences and their dependence on sex for panic disorder and/or agoraphobia, social phobia, generalized anxiety disorder and major depression. Data from Australian (N = 2287) and Dutch (N = 1185) twins and siblings who were selected for a linkage study and participated in clinical interviews to obtain lifetime Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (4th ed.; DSM-IV) diagnoses were used. In a liability model, tetrachoric correlations were estimated in sibling pairs and sex differences between sibling correlations were tested. For each diagnosis, the sibling correlations could be constrained to be equal across the Australian and Dutch samples. With the exception of panic disorder and/or agoraphobia, all sibling correlations were the same for brother, sister and opposite-sex sibling pairs and were around .20. For panic disorder and/or agoraphobia, the correlation was .23 in brother and sister pairs, but absent in opposite-sex sibling pairs. From these results it can be concluded that upper heritability estimates, based on twice the correlations in the sibling pairs, vary between 36% (major depression) and 50% (social phobia). Furthermore, different genetic risk factors appear to contribute to the vulnerability for panic disorder and/or agoraphobia in men and women. No other sex differences were found.
In 1986 we began The Netherlands Twin Register (NTR) by recruiting young twins and multiples a few weeks or months after birth. Currently we register around 50% of all newborn multiples in The Netherlands. Their parents receive a questionnaire at registration and afterwards when the children are 2, 3, 5, 7, 10 and 12 years of age. Teachers are asked to rate the behavior of the children at ages 7, 10 and 12 years. Adolescent and young-adult twins were recruited through City Councils in the early 1990s. These twins, their parents and siblings participate in longitudinal survey studies that include items about health, fertility, lifestyle, addiction, personality and psychopathology, religion, socioeconomic status, and educational attainment. The total number of twins and multiples registered with the NTR is currently over 60,000. Subgroups of twins and siblings take part in studies of cognitive development, brain function and neuropsychological indices of attention processes, and molecular genetic studies of classical and behavioral cardiovascular risk factors. DNA samples are currently collected in selected twin families for two large linkage studies, which aim to find QTLs for anxious depression and for nicotine addiction. Sisters who are mothers of DZ twins contribute DNA samples for a linkage study of DZ twinning. Large cohorts of phenotyped family members from the general population are very valuable for genetic epidemiological studies and permit selection of informative families for gene finding studies.