Worldwide Twins Newsletter - Issue 11
International Network of Twin Registries
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Worldwide Twins is the communication platform of the International Network of Twin Registries (INTR), which aims to foster scientific collaboration and promote twin research on a global scale.

The INTR is a working group of the International Society for Twin Studies (ISTS).

In this issue

We bring you another issue full of new proposals for collaboration and a variety of research outputs from twin studies. The wide range of disciplines and applications of twin designs reported in this issue show the relevance of twin research to solve scientific problems in medical and health research. Spreading the word is what we are here for. Please share and enjoy the read!

New calls for collaboration
Send us an email if you want your proposal reported in our next issue.


Twin research: on the origin of healthy food consumption and physical activity

A consortium of international twin studies is being set up by Maurice Zeegers, Evangelia Antoniou and Elena Tore at Maastricht University (The Netherlands). Their aim is to analyze the origins of healthy food consumption and physical activity. More specifically, they would like to disentangle the genetic and environmental factors that influence these two behaviors associated with many chronic diseases. Moreover, they want to find out which specific gene(s) might influence healthy eating and physical activity, by undertaking two separate GWAS. 

They are looking for any twin studies and registries which collected information on dietary intake, physical activity and possibly whole genotype data in adult twins. Five large twin registries (Washington State Twin Registry, Keio Twin Registry, TwinsUK, EFPTS and Murcia Twin Registry) are already onboard, with a total of over 30,600 twins. If you are able to contribute or want to know more, please contact Elena by email or access the consortium's website here

DNA methylation and the etiology of the VACTERL association

Last year, Iris van Rooij and Romy van de Putte (Radboud university Medical Center, The Netherlands) started a new project focusing on the causes of the VACTERL association, a combination of at least 3 of the following birth defects: Vertebral, Anorectal, Cardiac, Tracheo-esophageal, Renal and Limb anomalies. They are interested in whether DNA methylation plays a role in the etiology of the VACTERL association. DNA methylation is a mechanism by which you can “turn off” genes so that they are not expressed anymore. 

They are searching for monozygotic twin pairs discordant for VACTERL to participate in this study. However, monozygotic twin pairs in which both twins are affected, but not with the same VACTERL anomalies, can also participate. They require a blood sample and a buccal swab (cells from cheek) from both the affected and unaffected twins, and whenever possible, a blood sample from both parents. If you can contribute to this study or want to know more, please contact Romy van de Putte by email

Genetic and environmental influences on aesthetic judgment

Giacomo Bignardi (Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam, The Netherlands) is looking for twin data on aesthetic judgment for an undergraduate level project under the supervision of Tinca Polderman. The aims of the study are (1) to explore the genetic and/or environmental influences on people’s aesthetic preferences in different domains and (2) investigate potential differences between the different domains regarding etiological influences (example: visual art vs. music taste preferences.

They are looking for (1) MZ and DZ data about Aesthetic ratings of visual images (dynamic or static, a.k.a. movies or paintings) or music, (2) data about ratings of perceived taste, aroma or flavor. If not enough data are available they will also look for (3) twin cohorts that would be interested in including a survey on aesthetic preferences in future data collections. If you can contribute to this study or want to know more, please email Giacomo by email.

In the news

IVF has little effect on health of the child

"The rate of IVF births has risen dramatically in recent years as fertility rates continue to fall worldwide. To date, over 5m babies have been born with the help of these technologies. However, there have been concerns about potential health problems in children conceived by IVF. Our latest study shows that those fears are largely unfounded." Read the full story here.

Early death by back pain? There's a 13 per cent chance

"Back pain is the leading cause of disability globally, and it may shorten your life. A new study by researchers from the University of Sydney has found that those with back pain have a 13 per cent higher chance of dying prematurely." Read the full story here.

A life entwined: Identical twins from one to 100

"Identical twins are a source of fascination to many people and account for around 1 in 500 births in Australia. As we delve into the lives of three sets of identical twins, we discover one common thread — their bond for each other." Read the full story here.

Research Highlights


Fetal Growth and Childhood Lung Function in the STOPPA Twin Study

Results from a study conducted by Örtqvist et al. suggest a significant association between restricted fetal growth and lung function in childhood that may be independent of gestational age and shared familial factors, in a study with 538 twins from the Swedish Twin study On Prediction and Prevention of Asthma (STOPPA). Read the full article here.

Perceived Family Cohesion Moderates Environmental Influences on Prosocial Behavior in Nigerian Adolescent Twins

Hur et al. found that Familial Cohesion reduces individual differences in prosocial behavior (PB) by changing non-shared environmental experiences rather than genetic factors in PB, in a study of 595 MZ and 1,781 DZ twins from Lagos, Nigeria. Read the full article here.

Neighborhood deprivation and depression in adult twins: genetics and gene×environment interaction

Strachan et al. found a gene X environment interaction between neighborhood deprivation and depression in a study of 3155 monozygotic and 1275 twin dizygotic pairs from the Washington State Twin Registry. Read the full article here.

A Power Calculator for the Classical Twin Design

Verhulst outlines a general method for calculating power in twin studies, and to provide functions to allow researchers to easily conduct power analyses for a range of common twin models. Read the full article here

Early-Career Research Highlights

This session includes recent publications from Early-Career Researchers in twin research. Send us an email if you are an ECR and want to suggest an article for our next issue.

Anita Amorim et al.

Chronic low back pain and the risk of depression or anxiety symptoms: insights from a longitudinal twin study

Courses & Workshops

Send us an email if you want your course reported in our next issue.

Job opportunities
Send us an email if you want your job opening reported in our next issue.

Thanks for reading and see you soon!
This newsletter issue was edited by Lucas Ferreira (University of Melbourne).
Please contact us if you want to know more.
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