Meta-analysis of the heritability of human traits based on fifty years of twin studies.

Bibliographic Collection: 
Publication Type: Journal Article
Authors: Polderman, Tinca J C; Benyamin, Beben; de Leeuw, Christiaan A; Sullivan, Patrick F; van Bochoven, Arjen; Visscher, Peter M; Posthuma, Danielle
Year of Publication: 2015
Journal: Nat Genet
Volume: 47
Issue: 7
Pagination: 702-9
Date Published: 2015 Jul
Publication Language: eng
ISSN: 1546-1718
Keywords: Cluster Analysis, Gene-Environment Interaction, Genetic Association Studies, Genetic Heterogeneity, Genetic Predisposition to Disease, Humans, Models, Genetic, Twins, Dizygotic, Twins, Monozygotic

Despite a century of research on complex traits in humans, the relative importance and specific nature of the influences of genes and environment on human traits remain controversial. We report a meta-analysis of twin correlations and reported variance components for 17,804 traits from 2,748 publications including 14,558,903 partly dependent twin pairs, virtually all published twin studies of complex traits. Estimates of heritability cluster strongly within functional domains, and across all traits the reported heritability is 49%. For a majority (69%) of traits, the observed twin correlations are consistent with a simple and parsimonious model where twin resemblance is solely due to additive genetic variation. The data are inconsistent with substantial influences from shared environment or non-additive genetic variation. This study provides the most comprehensive analysis of the causes of individual differences in human traits thus far and will guide future gene-mapping efforts. All the results can be visualized using the MaTCH webtool.

DOI: 10.1038/ng.3285
Alternate Journal: Nat. Genet.