Genetic and Environmental Contributions to Facial Morphological Variation: A 3D Population-Based Twin Study. J Djordjevic, AI Zhurov, S Richmond, Visigen Consortium.

Date: September 2016
Source: PLoS One. 11(9):e0162250.
Introduction: Facial phenotype is influenced by genes and environment; however, little is known about their relative contributions to normal facial morphology. The aim of this study was to assess the relative genetic and environmental contributions to facial morphological variation using a three-dimensional (3D) population-based approach and the classical twin study design.
Materials and Methods: 3D facial images of 1380 female twins from the TwinsUK Registry database were used. All faces were landmarked, by manually placing 37 landmark points, and Procrustes registered. Three groups of traits were extracted and analysed: 19 principal components (uPC) and 23 principal components (sPC), derived from the unscaled and scaled landmark configurations respectively, and 1275 linear distances measured between 51 landmarks (37 manually identified and 14 automatically calculated). The intraclass correlation coefficients, rMZ and rDZ, broad-sense heritability (h2), common (c2) and unique (e2) environment contributions were calculated for all traits for the monozygotic (MZ) and dizygotic (DZ) twins.
Results: Heritability of 13 uPC and 17 sPC reached statistical significance, with h2 ranging from 38.8% to 78.5% in the former and 30.5% to 84.8% in the latter group. Also, 1222 distances showed evidence of genetic control. Common environment contributed to one PC in both groups and 53 linear distances (4.3%). Unique environment contributed to 17 uPC and 20 sPC and 1245 distances.
Conclusions: Genetic factors can explain more than 70% of the phenotypic facial variation in facial size, nose (width, prominence and height), lips prominence and inter-ocular distance. A few traits have shown potential dominant genetic influence: the prominence and height of the nose, the lower lip prominence in relation to the chin and upper lip philtrum length. Environmental contribution to facial variation seems to be the greatest for the mandibular ramus height and horizontal facial asymmetry.

Article: Genetic and Environmental Contributions to Facial Morphological Variation: A 3D Population-Based Twin Study
Authors: Jelena Djordjevic, Alexei I. Zhurov, Stephen Richmond, Visigen Consortium

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