A genome-screen of a large twin cohort reveals linkage for quantitative ultrasound of the calcaneus to 2q33-37 and 4q12-21

J Bone Miner Res. 2004 Feb;19(2):270-7. doi: 10.1359/JBMR.0301224. Epub 2003 Dec 16.


A genome-wide screen was performed on a large cohort of dizygous twin pairs to identify regions of the genome that contain QTL for QUS of bone. Suggestive linkage of QUS parameters to 2q33-37 and 4q12-21 highlighted these regions as potentially important for studies of genes that regulate bone.

Introduction: The genetics of osteoporotic fracture is only partly explained by bone mineral density (BMD). Quantitative ultrasound (QUS) of the calcaneus can also be used for independent clinical assessment of osteoporotic fracture risk. Two specific indices are derived from this assessment: broadband ultrasound attenuation (BUA) and velocity of sound (VOS). Both parameters provide information on fracture risk; however, BUA has been studied more extensively and may be favored because it is thought to have a stronger predictive value for osteoporotic fracture and incorporates aspects of trabecular structure and bone quality as well as BMD. Studies of QUS in twins have shown that both derived parameters are under substantial genetic control, independent of BMD.

Materials and methods: To identify regions of the genome that contain quantitative trait loci (QTL) for QUS of bone, we performed a genome-wide screen on a large cohort of dizygous twin pairs. Unselected female dizygous twins from 1067 pedigrees from the St Thomas' UK Adult Twin Registry were genome scanned (737 highly polymorphic microsatellite markers). Multipoint linkage analyses provided maximum evidence of linkage for BUA (LOD 2.1-5.1) to 2q33-37. Linkage for VOS (LOD 2.2-3.4) was maximal at 4q12-21. Potential evidence of linkage in the cohort indicated five other possible locations of QTL (LOD > 2.0) relevant to bone density or structure on chromosomes 1, 2, 13, 14, and X.

Results and conclusions: This study has identified eight genomic locations with linkage of LOD > 2.0. This data should be of value in assisting researchers to localize genes that regulate bone mass and microstructure. These results should complement genome screens of BMD and bone structure and serve to enable further targeted positional candidate and positional cloning studies to advance our understanding of genetic control of bone quality and risk of fracture.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Calcaneus / diagnostic imaging*
  • Chromosomes, Human, Pair 2*
  • Chromosomes, Human, Pair 4*
  • Cohort Studies
  • Female
  • Genetic Linkage*
  • Humans
  • Middle Aged
  • Quantitative Trait Loci
  • Ultrasonography