Twin study of genetic and aging effects on X chromosome inactivation

Eur J Hum Genet. 2005 May;13(5):599-606. doi: 10.1038/sj.ejhg.5201398.


To investigate the genetic influence on X chromosome inactivation and on age-related skewing of X inactivation, in particular, we analysed the X inactivation pattern (XIP) in peripheral blood cells from 118 young monozygotic (MZ) twin pairs (18-53 years), 82 elderly MZ twin pairs (55-94 years), 146 young dizygotic (DZ) twin pairs (20-54 years) and 112 elderly DZ twin pairs (64-95 years). Elderly twins had a higher frequency of skewed X inactivation (34%) than young twins (15%) (P<0.001). Our data suggest that the increase in skewing occurs after age 50-60 years. The intraclass correlation was 0.61 and 0.58 in young and elderly MZ twin pairs, and 0.08 and 0.09 in young and elderly DZ twin pairs. Biometric analysis showed that dominant genetic effects accounted for 63 and 58% of the variance of XIP in the young and elderly twin pairs, respectively. The dominant genetic effect and the shared environment for monochorionic MZ twins may explain the high intraclass correlation for the MZ twin pairs compared to the DZ twin pairs. We did not observe a significant decrease in the intraclass correlation in elderly MZ twins compared to young MZ twins, which would be expected if age-related skewing were due to stochastic factors. We conclude that the increased skewing with age implies that a genetically dependent selection of blood cells take place.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Aging / genetics*
  • Chromosomes, Human, X / genetics
  • Dosage Compensation, Genetic*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Middle Aged
  • Phenotype
  • Twins, Dizygotic
  • Twins, Monozygotic