Clonal hematopoiesis in elderly twins: concordance, discordance, and mortality

Blood. 2020 Jan 23;135(4):261-268. doi: 10.1182/blood.2019001793.


Clonal hematopoiesis (CH) of indeterminate potential (CHIP) is defined by mutations in myeloid cancer-associated genes with a variant allele frequency of at least 2%. Recent studies have suggested a possible genetic predisposition to CH. To further explore this phenomenon, we conducted a population-based study of 594 twins from 299 pairs aged 73 to 94 years, all with >20 years' follow-up. We sequenced DNA from peripheral blood with a customized 21-gene panel at a median coverage of 6179X. The casewise concordance rates for mutations were calculated to assess genetic predisposition. Mutations were identified in 214 (36%) of the twins. Whereas 20 twin pairs had mutations within the same genes, the exact same mutation was only observed in 2 twin pairs. No significant difference in casewise concordance between monozygotic and dizygotic twins was found for any specific gene, subgroup, or CHIP mutations overall, and no significant heritability could be detected. In pairs discordant for CHIP mutations, we tested if the affected twin died before the unaffected twin, as a direct measurement of the association of having CH when controlling for familial factors. A total of 127 twin pairs were discordant for carrying a mutation, and in 61 (48%) cases, the affected twin died first (P = .72). Overall, we did not find a genetic predisposition to CHIP mutations in this twin study. The previously described negative association of CHIP mutations on survival could not be confirmed in a direct comparison among twin pairs that were discordant for CHIP mutations.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Cohort Studies
  • Diseases in Twins / genetics
  • Female
  • Gene Frequency
  • Genetic Predisposition to Disease
  • Hematologic Neoplasms / genetics
  • Hematologic Neoplasms / mortality
  • Hematopoiesis*
  • Humans
  • Leukemia, Myeloid / genetics*
  • Leukemia, Myeloid / mortality
  • Male
  • Mutation
  • Twins / genetics*
  • Twins, Dizygotic / genetics
  • Twins, Monozygotic / genetics