Genetic and environmental influences on symptomatic gallstone disease: a Swedish study of 43,141 twin pairs

Despina Katsika, Andrej Grjibovski, Curt Einarsson, Frank Lammert, Paul Lichtenstein, Hanns-Ulrich Marschall
Hepatology: Official Journal of the American Association for the Study of Liver Diseases 2005, 41 (5): 1138-43
The contribution of hereditary and environmental factors to the pathogenesis of symptomatic gallstone disease is still unclear. We estimated the relative importance of genetic and environmental factors by analyzing a large population of twins. For this purpose, the Swedish Twin Registry was linked with the Swedish inpatient-discharge and causes of death registries for symptomatic gallstone disease and gallstone surgery-related diagnoses in 43,141 twin pairs born between 1900 and 1958. Concordance rates, correlations, and odds ratios were calculated for males, females, monozygotic, and dizygotic twins, respectively, as well as for twin pairs of opposite sex. Structural equation modeling techniques were used to estimate the contributions of genetic effects as well as shared and non-shared environmental factors to the development of symptomatic gallstone disease. We found that concordances and correlations were higher in monozygotic compared with dizygotic twins, both for males and females. Of note, there were no significant sex differences in heritability. In the full model, genetic effects accounted for 25% (95% CI, 9%-40%), shared environmental effects for 13% (95% CI, 1%-25%), and unique environmental effects for 62% (95% CI, 56%-68%) of the phenotypic variance among twins. In conclusion, our results show heritability to be a major susceptibility factor for symptomatic gallstone disease, consistent with results from previous, much smaller studies.

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