Twin Studies and Epigenetics

Tiphaine C. Martin*, Jordana T. Bell, Timothy D. Spector

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapterpeer-review

1 Citation (Scopus)


Epigenetics is the study of chemical and cellular modifications to DNA and chromatin, which alters the expression of genes without altering the underlying DNA sequence. The state of epigenetic elements can change over time and can have a heritable component, but can also be modified by internal and external environmental factors. Therefore, epigenetic phenotype analyses should take into account the dynamic nature of epigenetic mechanisms, and control for potential confounders, such as age and genetic factors. Twin studies provide valuable information about the genetic as well as the epigenetic epidemiology of complex traits and diseases. Such unique studies can explore the relationship between genetic, environmental, and random factors and their interactions with, for example, sex, age, and lifestyle factors underlying a phenotype of interest. Using twins provides a powerful model to help us unravel the multifactorial components of complex diseases and traits.

Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationInternational Encyclopedia of the Social & Behavioral Sciences: Second Edition
PublisherElsevier Inc.
Number of pages20
ISBN (Electronic)9780080970875
ISBN (Print)9780080970868
Publication statusPublished - 26 Mar 2015


  • Complex trait
  • Concordance
  • Discordance
  • Disease
  • Dizygotic
  • DNA methylation
  • Environment
  • Epigenetic
  • EWAS
  • Genetic
  • Heritability
  • Monozygotic
  • Stochastic
  • Twin


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