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Female fertility is a complex trait with age-specific changes in spontaneous dizygotic (DZ) twinning and fertility. To elucidate factors regulating female fertility and infertility, we conducted a genome-wide association study (GWAS) on mothers of spontaneous DZ twins (MoDZT) versus controls (3273 cases, 24,009 controls). This is a follow-up study to the Australia/New Zealand (ANZ) component of that previously reported (Mbarek et al., 2016), with a sample size almost twice that of the entire discovery sample meta-analysed in the previous article (and five times the ANZ contribution to that), resulting from newly available additional genotyping and representing a significant increase in power. We compare analyses with and without male controls and show unequivocally that it is better to include male controls who have been screened for recent family history, than to use only female controls. Results from the SNP based GWAS identified four genomewide significant signals, including one novel region, ZFPM1 (Zinc Finger Protein, FOG Family Member 1), on chromosome 16. Previous signals near FSHB (Follicle Stimulating Hormone beta subunit) and SMAD3 (SMAD Family Member 3) were also replicated (Mbarek et al., 2016). We also ran the GWAS with a dominance model that identified a further locus ADRB2 on chr 5. These results have been contributed to the International Twinning Genetics Consortium for inclusion in the next GWAS meta-analysis (Mbarek et al., in press).
The recruitment of participants for research studies may be subject to bias. The Prospective Imaging Study of Ageing (PISA) aims to characterize the phenotype and natural history of healthy adult Australians at high future risk of Alzheimer’s disease (AD). Participants approached to take part in PISA were selected from existing cohort studies with available genomewide genetic data for both successfully and unsuccessfully recruited participants, allowing us to investigate the genetic contribution to voluntary recruitment, including the genetic predisposition to AD. We use a polygenic risk score (PRS) approach to test to what extent the genetic risk for AD, and related risk factors predict participation in PISA. We did not identify a significant association of genetic risk for AD with study participation, but we did identify significant associations with PRS for key causal risk factors for AD, IQ, household income and years of education. We also found that older and female participants were more likely to take part in the study. Our findings highlight the importance of considering bias in key risk factors for AD in the recruitment of individuals for cohort studies.
Reading and language abilities are critical for educational achievement and success in adulthood. Variation in these traits is highly heritable, but the underlying genetic architecture is largely undiscovered. Genetic studies of reading and language skills traditionally focus on children with developmental disorders; however, much larger unselected adult samples are available, increasing power to identify associations with specific genetic variants of small effect size. We introduce an Australian adult population cohort (41.7–73.2 years of age, N = 1505) in which we obtained data using validated measures of several aspects of reading and language abilities. We performed genetic association analysis for a reading and spelling composite score, nonword reading (assessing phonological processing: a core component in learning to read), phonetic spelling, self-reported reading impairment and nonword repetition (a marker of language ability). Given the limited power in a sample of this size (~80% power to find a minimum effect size of 0.005), we focused on analyzing candidate genes that have been associated with dyslexia and developmental speech and language disorders in prior studies. In gene-based tests, FOXP2, a gene implicated in speech/language disorders, was associated with nonword repetition (p < .001), phonetic spelling (p = .002) and the reading and spelling composite score (p < .001). Gene-set analyses of candidate dyslexia and speech/language disorder genes were not significant. These findings contribute to the assessment of genetic associations in reading and language disorders, crucial for understanding their etiology and informing intervention strategies, and validate the approach of using unselected adult samples for gene discovery in language and reading.
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