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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.
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.
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.
The Guangzhou Twin Registry is a population-based registry of twins residing in Guangzhou City. The initial registry database included 9,700 pairs of young twins recruited from the Official Household Registry of Guangzhou City. The registry is designed to provide a resource to identify the genetic and environmental causes of common diseases with an initial focus on eye diseases. From 2006 onward, phenotype and DNA collection have been completed for more than 1,200 twin pairs and their parents or siblings. Most of the young twins have come back for an annual examination of the progressive traits, such as refraction, ocular biometry, weight, and height. Genome-wide association scans have been completed recently. This article gives an update of the study design, cohort profile, previous findings, and future directions. Results from the Guangzhou Twin Project may contribute to the understanding of gene-environmental interplay for complex diseases in both adults and children.
The Guangzhou Twin Registry, initiated in 2005, is a population-based registry of twins born between 1987 and 2000. To date, over 9700 pairs of twins, regardless of their health and medical history, were enrolled in the database using the Official Household Registry of Guangzhou City. The twins were subsequently verified by door-to-door visits based on the registry address. The primary goal of this registry is to develop a resource for genetic epidemiological studies on common diseases in the southern Chinese population. The initial focus is to distinguish the genetic and environmental determinants of eye diseases, in particular myopia and glaucoma. About 1000 pairs of twins living close to the Zhongshan Ophthalmic Center were invited for the first phenotyping examination, questionnaire administration and DNA collection in July and August 2006. An annual eye examination and other phenotype data collection have been scheduled for up to 5 years in order to investigate changes in phenotypes including the myopia progression, physical development and the changes of other eye-related phenotypes. Recruitment of adult twins aged 50 years and over is underway in the same city with the assistance of the government.
Studies have reported that refractive errors are associated with premature births. As twins have higher prevalence of prematurity than singletons, it is important to assess similarity of the prevalence of refractive errors in twins and singletons for proper interpretations and generalizations of the findings from twin studies. We compared refractive errors and diopter hours between 561 pairs of twins and 3757 singletons who are representative of school-age children (7–15 years) residing in an urban area of southern China. We found that the means and variances of the continuous measurement of spherical equivalent refractive error and diopter hours were not significantly different between twins and singletons. Although the prevalence of myopia was comparable between twins and singletons, that of hyperopia and astigmatism was slightly but significantly higher in twins than in singletons. These results are inconsistent with those of adult studies that showed no differences in refractive errors between twins and singletons. Given that the sample size of twins is relatively small and that this study is the first to demonstrate minor differences in refractive errors between twins and singletons, future replications are necessary to determine whether the slightly higher prevalence of refractive errors in twins than in singletons found in this study was due to a sampling error or to the developmental delay often observed in twins in childhood.
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