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 email@example.com
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.
TwinsUK is the largest cohort of community-dwelling adult twins in the UK. The registry comprises over 14,000 volunteer twins (14,838 including mixed, single and triplets); it is predominantly female (82%) and middle-aged (mean age 59). In addition, over 1800 parents and siblings of twins are registered volunteers. During the last 27 years, TwinsUK has collected numerous questionnaire responses, physical/cognitive measures and biological measures on over 8500 subjects. Data were collected alongside four comprehensive phenotyping clinical visits to the Department of Twin Research and Genetic Epidemiology, King’s College London. Such collection methods have resulted in very detailed longitudinal clinical, biochemical, behavioral, dietary and socioeconomic cohort characterization; it provides a multidisciplinary platform for the study of complex disease during the adult life course, including the process of healthy aging. The major strength of TwinsUK is the availability of several ‘omic’ technologies for a range of sample types from participants, which includes genomewide scans of single-nucleotide variants, next-generation sequencing, metabolomic profiles, microbiomics, exome sequencing, epigenetic markers, gene expression arrays, RNA sequencing and telomere length measures. TwinsUK facilitates and actively encourages sharing the ‘TwinsUK’ resource with the scientific community — interested researchers may request data via the TwinsUK website (http://twinsuk.ac.uk/resources-for-researchers/access-our-data/) for their own use or future collaboration with the study team. In addition, further cohort data collection is planned via the Wellcome Open Research gateway (https://wellcomeopenresearch.org/gateways). The current article presents an up-to-date report on the application of technological advances, new study procedures in the cohort and future direction of TwinsUK.
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.
Low birth weight (LBW) can have an impact on health outcomes in later life, especially in relation to pre-disposition to metabolic disease. Several studies suggest that LBW resulting from restricted intrauterine growth leaves a footprint on DNA methylation in utero, and this influence likely persists into adulthood. To investigate this further, we performed epigenome-wide association analyses of blood DNA methylation using Infinium HumanMethylation450 BeadChip profiles in 71 adult monozygotic (MZ) twin pairs who were extremely discordant for birth weight. A signal mapping to the IGF1R gene (cg12562232, p = 2.62 × 10−8), was significantly associated with birth weight discordance at a genome-wide false-discovery rate (FDR) of 0.05. We pursued replication in three additional independent datasets of birth weight discordant MZ pairs and observed the same direction of association, but the results were not significant. However, a meta-analysis across the four independent samples, in total 216 birth-weight discordant MZ twin pairs, showed a significant positive association between birth weight and DNA methylation differences at IGF1R (random-effects meta-analysis p = .04), and the effect was particularly pronounced in older twins (random-effects meta-analysis p = .008, 98 older birth-weight discordant MZ twin pairs). The results suggest that severe intra-uterine growth differences (birth weight discordance >20%) are associated with methylation changes in the IGF1R gene in adulthood, independent of genetic effects.
There is good evidence for the benefits of short-term cognitive stimulation therapy for dementia but little is known about possible long-term effects.
To evaluate the effectiveness of maintenance cognitive stimulation therapy (CST) for people with dementia in a single-blind, pragmatic randomised controlled trial including a substudy with participants taking acetylcholinesterase inhibitors (AChEIs).
The participants were 236 people with dementia from 9 care homes and 9 community services. Prior to randomisation all participants received the 7-week, 14-session CST programme. The intervention group received the weekly maintenance CST group programme for 24 weeks. The control group received usual care. Primary outcomes were cognition and quality of life (clinical trial registration: ISRCTN26286067).
For the intervention group at the 6-month primary end-point there were significant benefits for self-rated quality of life (Quality of Life in Alzheimer's Disease (QoL-AD) P = 0.03). At 3 months there were improvements for proxy-rated quality of life (QoL-AD P = 0.01, Dementia Quality of Life scale (DEMQOL) P = 0.03) and activities of daily living (P = 0.04). The intervention subgroup taking AChEIs showed cognitive benefits (on the Mini-Mental State Examination) at 3 (P = 0.03) and 6 months (P = 0.03).
Continuing CST improves quality of life; and improves cognition for those taking AChEIs.
In humans, in contrast to animals, the genetic influences on infidelity are unclear. We report here a large study of over 1600 unselected United Kingdom female twin pairs who confidentially reported previous episodes of infidelity and total lifetime number of sexual partners, as well as attitudes towards infidelity. Our findings demonstrate that infidelity and number of sexual partners are both under moderate genetic influence (41% and 38% heritable, respectively) and the genetic correlation between these two traits is strong (47%). Conversely, attitudes towards infidelity are driven by shared and unique environmental, but not genetic, influences. A genome-wide linkage scan identified three suggestive but nonsignificant linkage areas associated with infidelity and number of sexual partners on chromosomes 3, 7 and 20 with a maximum LOD score of 2.46. We were unsuccessful in associating infidelity or number of sexual partners with a locus implicated in other mammals' sexual behavior, the vasopressin receptor gene. Nonetheless, our findings on the heritabil-ity of sexual infidelity and number of sexual partners provide support for certain evolutionary theories of human sexual behavior, as well as justifying further genetic and molecular research in this domain.
Dysmorphic concern refers to an excessive preoccupation with a perceived or slight defect in physical appearance. It lies on a continuum of severity from no or minimal concerns to severe concerns over one's appearance. The present study examined the heritability of dysmorphic concerns in a large sample of twins.
Twins from the St Thomas UK twin registry completed a valid and reliable self-report measure of dysmorphic concerns, which also includes questions about perceived body odour and malfunction. Twin modelling methods (female twins only, n=3544) were employed to decompose the variance in the liability to dysmorphic concerns into additive genetic, shared and non-shared environmental factors.
Model-fitting analyses showed that genetic factors accounted for approximately 44% [95% confidence intervals (CI) 36–50%] of the variance in dysmorphic concerns, with non-shared environmental factors and measurement error accounting for the remaining variance (56%; 95% CI 50–63%). Shared environmental factors were negligible. The results remained unchanged when excluding individuals reporting an objective medical condition/injury accounting for their concern in physical appearance.
Over-concern with a perceived or slight defect in physical appearance is a heritable trait, with non-shared environmental factors also playing an important role in its causation. The results are relevant for various psychiatric disorders characterized by excessive concerns in body appearance, odour or function, including but not limited to body dysmorphic disorder.
The DSM-V Working Group is currently re-evaluating distress as a primary diagnostic criterion for female sexual dysfunction (FSD). Here, for the first time, we explored the epidemiology of sexual distress and its putative aetiological relationship to FSD by estimating the influence of genetic and environmental risk factors.
Questionnaire data on a representative sample of 930 British female twins using validated scales of FSD and sexual distress were subject to variance components analyses to quantify latent genetic and environmental factors influencing phenotypic variation and covariation. Multiple regression analyses were used to identify other potential risk factors of sexual distress.
Of 319 women with any sexual problems, only 36.5% reported distress. Of women classified as functional, 16.5% felt sexual distress. Sexual distress had a heritability of 44% [95% confidence interval (CI) 0.33–0.54]. Bivariate analysis suggested that the majority (91% CI 86–99%) of the covariance between sexual distress and FSD was due to unique environmental effects common to both traits. Associations were found between sexual distress and other risk variables, including relationship dissatisfaction [odds ratio (OR) 1.6, p<0.001], anxiety sensitivity and obsessive–compulsive symptomatology (OR 1.2, p<0.01, for both).
There seems to be a weak phenotypic and genetic basis for including sexual distress as a diagnostic indicator of FSD. Instead, the data indicate that unrelated psychological factors play an important role in sexual distress and tentatively suggest that sexual distress is less a consequence of FSD and more related to general anxiety among women.
Background. The General Health Questionnaire (GHQ) is the most popular screening instrument for detecting psychiatric disorders in community samples. Using longitudinal data of a large sample of UK twin pairs, we explored (i) heritabilities of the four scales and the total score; (ii) the genetic stability over time; and (iii) the existence of differential heritable influences at the high (ill) and low (healthy) tail of the distribution.
Method. At baseline we assessed the GHQ in 627 MZ and 1323 DZ female pairs and at a second occasion (3·5 years later) for a small subsample (90 MZ and 270 DZ pairs). Liability threshold models and raw ordinal maximum likelihood were used to estimate twin correlations and to fit longitudinal genetic models. We estimated extreme group heritabilities of the GHQ distribution by using a model-fitting implementation of the DeFries–Fulker regression method for selected twin data.
Results. Heritabilities for Somatic Symptoms, Anxiety, Social Dysfunction, Depression and total score were 0·37, 0·40, 0·20, 0·42 and 0·44, respectively. The contribution of shared genetic factors to the correlations between time points is substantial for the total score (73%). Group heritabilities of 0·48 and 0·43 were estimated for the top and bottom 10% of the total GHQ score distribution, respectively.
Conclusion. The overall heritability of the GHQ as a measure of psychosocial distress was substantial (44%), with all scales having significant additive genetic influences that persisted across time periods. Extreme group analyses suggest that the genetic control of resilience is as important as the genetic control of vulnerability.
Email your librarian or administrator to recommend adding this to your organisation's collection.