Genetic influences on cervical and lumbar disc degeneration: a magnetic resonance imaging study in twins. (1/1447)

OBJECTIVE: Degenerative intervertebral disc disease is common; however, the importance of genetic factors is unknown. This study sought to determine the extent of genetic influences on disc degeneration by classic twin study methods using magnetic resonance imaging (MRI). METHODS: We compared MRI features of degenerative disc disease in the cervical and lumbar spine of 172 monozygotic and 154 dizygotic twins (mean age 51.7 and 54.4, respectively) who were unselected for back pain or disc disease. An overall score for disc degeneration was calculated as the sum of the grades for disc height, bulge, osteophytosis, and signal intensity at each level. A "severe disease" score (excluding minor grades) and an "extent of disease" score (number of levels affected) were also calculated. RESULTS: For the overall score, heritability was 74% (95% confidence interval [95% CI] 64-81%) at the lumbar spine and 73% (95% CI 64-80%) at the cervical spine. For "severe disease," heritability was 64% and 79% at the lumbar and cervical spine, respectively, and for "extent of disease," heritability was 63% and 63%, respectively. These results were adjusted for age, weight, height, smoking, occupational manual work, and exercise. Examination of individual features revealed that disc height and bulge were highly heritable at both sites, and osteophytes were heritable in the lumbar spine. CONCLUSION: These results suggest an important genetic influence on variation in intervertebral disc degeneration. However, variation in disc signal is largely influenced by environmental factors shared by twins. The use of MRI scans to determine the phenotype in family and population studies should allow a better understanding of disease mechanisms and the identification of the genes involved.  (+info)

High polymorphism level of genomic sequences flanking insertion sites of human endogenous retroviral long terminal repeats. (2/1447)

The polymorphism at the multitude of loci adjacent to human endogenous retrovirus long terminal repeats (LTRs) was analyzed by a technique for whole genome differential display based on the PCR suppression effect that provides selective amplification and display of genomic sequences flanking interspersed repeated elements. This strategy is simple, target-specific, requires a small amount of DNA and provides reproducible and highly informative data. The average frequency of polymorphism observed in the vicinity of the LTR insertion sites was found to be about 12%. The high incidence of polymorphism within the LTR flanks together with the frequent location of LTRs near genes makes the LTR loci a useful source of polymorphic markers for gene mapping.  (+info)

X-chromosome inactivation patterns do not implicate asymmetric splitting of the inner cell mass in the aetiology of twin-twin transfusion syndrome. (3/1447)

The aetiology of twin-twin transfusion syndrome (TTTS) is unclear. We investigated the hypothesis that monochorionic (MC) pregnancies with TTTS are associated with differences in the timing and symmetry of twinning compared to MC twin pregnancies without TTTS. DNA was extracted from the umbilical cord vessels of 26 female MC twins, 14 with and 12 without TTTS on serial antenatal ultrasound. X-inactivation patterns were determined by DNA digestion with Hhal and Hpall followed by polymerase chain reaction for a polymorphic trinucleotide repeat in the androgen receptor gene. Products were quantified by densitometry and results compared to those in peripheral blood samples of adult female controls. The median degree of non-random inactivation was similar in MC twins with TTTS, in MC twins without TTTS, and in adult controls. The percentage of individuals with skewed (> or =30/70%) inactivation patterns was no different in MC twins with TTTS compared to those without TTTS, and was similar to adult controls using either enzyme technique. In conclusion we found no difference in the degree or frequency of non-random X-inactivation patterns in TTTS. X-inactivation patterns do not appear to be a useful tool for studying the symmetry of inner cell mass splitting in monochorionic twins.  (+info)

Genetic determination of islet cell autoimmunity in monozygotic twin, dizygotic twin, and non-twin siblings of patients with type 1 diabetes: prospective twin study. (4/1447)

OBJECTIVE: To test the hypothesis that non-diabetic dizygotic and monozygotic twin siblings of patients with type 1 diabetes have a similar high prevalence of islet cell autoantibodies, thus suggesting that islet cell autoimmunity is mainly environmentally determined. DESIGN: Prospective twin study. SETTING: Two specialist centres for diabetes in the United States. PARTICIPANTS: Non-diabetic monozygotic twin (n=53), dizygotic twin (n=30), and non-twin (n=149) siblings of patients with type 1 diabetes; 101 controls. MAIN OUTCOME MEASURES: Analysis of progression to diabetes and expression of anti-islet autoantibodies. RESULTS: Monozygotic twin siblings had a higher risk of progression to diabetes (12/53) than dizygotic twin siblings (0/30; P<0.005). At the last follow up 22 (41.5%) monozygotic twin siblings expressed autoantibodies compared with 6 (20%) dizygotic twin siblings (P<0.05), 16 (10.7%) non-twin siblings (P<0.0001), and 6 (5.9%) controls (P<0.0001). Monozygotic twin siblings expressed multiple (>/=2) antibodies more often than dizygotic twin siblings (10/38 v 1/23; P<0.05). By life table analysis the probability of developing positive autoantibodies was higher among the monozygotic twin siblings bearing the diabetes associated HLA DQ8/DQ2 genotype than in those without this genotype (64.2% (95% confidence interval 32.5% to 96%) v 23.5% (7% to 40%) at 10 years of discordance; P<0.05). CONCLUSION: Monozygotic and dizygotic twins differ in progression to diabetes and expression of islet cell autoantibodies. Dizygotic twin siblings are similar to non-twin siblings. These two observations suggest that genetic factors play an important part in determination of islet cell autoimmunity, thus rejecting the hypothesis. In addition, there is a high penetrance of islet cell autoimmunity in DQ8/DQ2 monozygotic twin siblings.  (+info)

Diagnosis of twin reversed arterial perfusion sequence in the first trimester by transvaginal color Doppler ultrasound. (5/1447)

A case of twin reversed arterial perfusion (TRAP) sequence was diagnosed at 12 weeks' gestation using transvaginal color Doppler ultrasound, which demonstrated the presence of retrograde perfusion in the umbilical artery of the abnormal twin. Ultrasound imaging showed a monochorionic-diamniotic twin pregnancy with an inappropriately grown second twin, the morphological evaluation of which revealed an abnormal cephalic pole with acrania, diffuse subcutaneous edema and the presence of cardiac activity in an abnormal heart with a single chamber.  (+info)

Breast cancer risk in monozygotic and dizygotic female twins: a 20-year population-based cohort study in Finland from 1976 to 1995. (6/1447)

This population-based study investigated the occurrence of breast cancer over a 20-year period in a cohort of monozygotic (MZ) and dizygotic (DZ) twins in Finland. Altogether, 13,176 female twins of known zygosity who were living in Finland at the end of 1975 were identified from the Finnish Twin Cohort Study and followed-up for cancer through the Finnish Cancer Registry for the years 1976-1995. Standardized incidence ratios (SIRs) were calculated, based on national cancer incidence rates. The relative risk of breast cancer for MZ twins compared to DZ twins was decreased [SIR(MZ)/SIR(DZ) ratio = 0.78; 95% confidence interval (CI), 0.58-1.0]; the decreased risk for MZ twins (SIR = 0.76; 95% CI, 0.58-1.0) accounted for this result, whereas the risk for DZ twins did not differ from the general population risk (SIR = 0.98; 95% CI, 0.84-1.1). There was no risk decrease among MZ twins in other cancers related to reproductive behavior; i.e., number of children and age at first birth seem not to explain the decreased risk of breast cancer. Our results, which are in line with earlier studies on the same topic, suggest that prenatal influences or postnatal behavioral factors may protect MZ female twins from breast cancer.  (+info)

How identical would cloned children be? An understanding essential to the ethical debate. (7/1447)

The ban on human cloning in many countries worldwide is founded on an assumption that cloned children will be identical to each other and to their nuclear donor. This paper explores the scientific basis for this assumption, considering both the principles and practice of cloning in animals and comparing genetic and epigenetic variation in potential human clones with that in monozygotic twins.  (+info)

A spare or an individual? Cloning and the implications of monozygotic twinning. (8/1447)

The creation of Dolly, the cloned sheep, raises the scenario of cloning in humans. Neither the case for, nor against, the ethics of cloning in humans is discussed in this paper. Instead, it considers the neglected issue of the likely happiness or otherwise of the resulting children if they are born as monozygotic twins or triplets. The advantages and disadvantages of twinship are discussed in detail, and it is concluded that recognized medical risks, and incompletely understood psychological effects, should be given serious consideration.  (+info)