Ganna A, Ortega-Alonso A, Havulinna A, Salomaa V, Kaprio J, Pedersen NL, Sullivan PF, Ingelsson E, Hultman CM, Magnusson PKE
PLoS ONE 8 (12) e83101 [2013-12-10; online 2013-12-10]
Twin registries around the globe have collected DNA samples from large numbers of monozygotic and dizygotic twins. The twin sample collections are frequently used as controls in disease-specific studies together with non-twins. This approach is unbiased under the hypothesis that twins and singletons are comparable in terms of allele frequencies; i.e. there are no genetic variants associated with being a twin per se. To test this hypothesis we performed a genome-wide association study comparing the allele frequency of 572,352 single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) in 1,413 monozygotic (MZ) and 5,451 dizygotic (DZ) twins with 3,720 healthy singletons. Twins and singletons have been genotyped using the same platform. SNPs showing association with being a twin at P-value < 1 × 10(-5) were selected for replication analysis in 1,492 twins (463 MZ and 1,029 DZ) and 1,880 singletons from Finland. No SNPs reached genome-wide significance (P-value < 5 × 10(-8)) in the main analysis combining MZ and DZ twins. In a secondary analysis including only DZ twins two SNPs (rs2033541 close to ADAMTSL1 and rs4149283 close to ABCA1) were genome-wide significant after meta-analysis with the Finnish population. The estimated proportion of variance on the liability scale explained by all SNPs was 0.08 (P-value=0.003) when MZ and DZ were considered together and smaller for MZ (0.06, P-value=0.10) compared to DZ (0.09, P-value=0.003) when analyzed separately. In conclusion, twins and singletons can be used in genetic studies together with general population samples without introducing large bias. Further research is needed to explore genetic variances associated with DZ twinning.