Not really identical: Epigenetic differences in monozygotic twins and implications for twin studies in psychiatry

F. Nipa Haque, Irving I Gottesman, Albert H C Wong

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

73 Scopus citations

Abstract

Classical twin studies in the field of psychiatry generally fall into one of two categories: (1) those designed to identify environmental risk factors causing discordance in monozygotic (MZ) twins and (2) those geared towards identifying genetic risk factors. However, neither environment nor differences in DNA sequence can fully account for phenotypic discordance among MZ twins. The field of epigenetics-DNA modifications that can affect gene expression-offers new models to understand discordance in MZ twins. In the past, MZ twins were regarded as genetically-identical controls for differing environmental conditions. In contrast, the evolving current concept is that epigenetic differences between MZ twins may modulate differences in diverse phenotype, from disease to personality. In this article, we review some twin studies, and discuss the dynamic interactions between stochastic, environmental, and epigenetic variables that influence neurobiological phenotypes.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)136-141
Number of pages6
JournalAmerican Journal of Medical Genetics, Part C: Seminars in Medical Genetics
Volume151
Issue number2
DOIs
StatePublished - May 15 2009

Keywords

  • Epigenetics
  • Genetics
  • Monozygotic twins
  • Non-shared environment

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