Heritability of maximal isometric muscle strength in older female twins

J Appl Physiol (1985). 2004 Jan;96(1):173-80. doi: 10.1152/japplphysiol.00200.2003. Epub 2003 Sep 5.


The purpose of the present study was to examine genetic and environmental effects on maximal isometric handgrip, knee extension, and ankle plantar flexion strength. In addition, we wanted to investigate whether the strength of these three muscle groups shares a genetic component or whether the genetic effect is specific for each muscle group. Muscle strength was measured as part of the Finnish Twin Study on Aging in 97 monozygotic (MZ) and 102 dizygotic (DZ) female twin pairs, aged 63-76 yr. The MZ and DZ individuals did not differ from each other in age, body height, weight, or self-related health. The age-adjusted pairwise (intraclass) correlations of the MZ and DZ twins were, respectively, 0.462 and 0.242 in knee extension, 0.435 and 0.345 in handgrip, and 0.512 and 0.435 in ankle plantar flexion strength. The multivariate genetic analysis showed that handgrip and knee extension strength shared a genetic component, which accounted for 14% (95% confidence interval: 4-28%) of the variance in handgrip strength and 31% (95% confidence interval: 18-45%) in knee extension strength. The influence of genetic effects on ankle plantar flexion strength was minor and not significant. Furthermore, these three muscle groups had a nongenetic familial effect in common and nonshared environmental effects in common. The results suggested that muscle strength is under a genetic regulation, but also environmental effects have a significant role in explaining the variability in the muscle strength.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Twin Study

MeSH terms

  • Aged
  • Aging / physiology*
  • Ankle Joint / physiology
  • Female
  • Hand Strength / physiology
  • Humans
  • Isometric Contraction / genetics*
  • Knee Joint / physiology
  • Multivariate Analysis
  • Muscle, Skeletal / physiology*
  • Twins, Dizygotic
  • Twins, Monozygotic