Flexible Mx specification of various extended twin kinship designs

Hermine H. Maes, Michael C. Neale, Sarah E. Medland, Matthew C. Keller, Nicholas G. Martin, Andrew C. Heath, Lindon J. Eaves

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22 Scopus citations


The extended twin kinship design allows the simultaneous testing of additive and nonadditive genetic, shared and individual-specific environmental factors, as well as sex differences in the expression of genes and environment in the presence of assortative mating and combined genetic and cultural transmission (Eaves et al., 1999). It also handles the contribution of these sources of variance to the (co)variation of multiple phenotypes. Keller et al. (2008) extended this comprehensive model for family resemblance to allow or a flexible specification of assortment and vertical transmission. As such, it provides a general framework which can easily be reduced to fit subsets of data such as twin-parent data, children-of-twins data, etc. A flexible Mx specification of this model that allows handling of these various designs is presented in detail and applied to data from the Virginia 30,000. Data on height, body mass index, smoking status, church attendance, and political affiliation were obtained from twins and their families. Results indicate that biases in the estimation of variance components depend both on the types of relative available for analysis, and on the underlying genetic and environmental architecture of the phenotype of interest.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)26-34
Number of pages9
JournalTwin Research and Human Genetics
Issue number1
StatePublished - Feb 2009


  • Extended twin kinship models
  • Mx
  • Twin and family data


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