Genetic and environmental impacts on DNA methylation levels in twins

Yet I. , Tsai P., Castillo-Fernandez J. E. , Carnero-Montoro E., Bell J. T.

EPIGENOMICS, vol.8, no.1, pp.105-117, 2016 (Journal Indexed in SCI) identifier identifier identifier

  • Publication Type: Article / Review
  • Volume: 8 Issue: 1
  • Publication Date: 2016
  • Doi Number: 10.2217/epi.15.90
  • Title of Journal : EPIGENOMICS
  • Page Numbers: pp.105-117


Epigenetics describes the study of cellular modifications that can modify the expression of genes without changing the DNA sequence. DNA methylation is one of the most stable and prevalent epigenetic mechanisms. Twin studies have been a valuable model for unraveling the genetic and epigenetic epidemiology of complex traits, and now offer a potential to dissect the factors that impact DNA methylation variability and its biomedical significance. The twin design specifically allows for the study of genetic, environmental and lifestyle factors, and their potential interactions, on epigenetic profiles. Furthermore, genetically identical twins offer a unique opportunity to assess nongenetic impacts on epigenetic profiles. Here, we summarize recent findings from twin studies of DNA methylation profiles across tissues, to define current knowledge regarding the genetic and nongenetic factors that influence epigenetic variation.