Genetics of microstructure of the corpus callosum in older adults

Sri C. Kanchibhotla, Karen A. Mather, Anbupalam Thalamuthu, Lin Zhuang, Peter R. Schofield, John B J Kwok, David Ames, Margaret J. Wright, Julian N. Trollor, Wei Wen, Perminder S. Sachdev

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3 Citations (Scopus)


The current study sought to examine the relative influence of genetic and environmental factors on corpus callosum (CC) microstructure in a community sample of older adult twins. Analyses were undertaken in 284 healthy older twins (66% female; 79 MZ and 63 DZ pairs) from the Older Australian Twins Study. The average age of the sample was 69.82 (SD54.76) years. Brain imaging scans were collected and DTI measures were estimated for the whole CC as well as its five subregions. Parcellation of the CC was performed using Analyze. In addition, white matter lesion (WMLs) burden was estimated. Heritability and genetic correlation analyses were undertaken using the SOLAR software package. Age, sex, scanner, handedness and blood pressure were considered as covariates. Heritability (h2) analysis for the DTI metrics of whole CC, indicated significant h2 for fractional anisotropy (FA) (h2=0.56; p=2.8910-10), mean diffusivity (MD) (h2=0.52; p=0.3061026), radial diffusivity (RD) (h2=0.49; p=0.210-6) and axial diffusivity (AD) (h2=0.37; p=8.1510-5). We also performed bivariate genetic correlation analyses between (i) whole CC DTI measures and (ii) whole CC DTI measures with total brain WML burden. Across the DTI measures for the whole CC, MD and RD shared 84% of the common genetic variance, followed by MD- AD (77%), FA - RD (52%), RD - AD (37%) and FA - MD (11%). For total WMLs, significant genetic correlations indicated that there was 19% shared common genetic variance with whole CC MD, followed by CC RD (17%), CC AD (16%) and CC FA (5%). Our findings suggest that the CC microstructure is under moderate genetic control. There was also evidence of shared genetic factors between the CC DTI measures. In contrast, there was less shared genetic variance between WMLs and the CC DTI metrics, suggesting fewer common genetic variants.

Original languageEnglish
Article numbere0113181
Pages (from-to)1-17
Number of pages17
JournalPLoS ONE
Issue number12
Publication statusPublished - 16 Dec 2014
Externally publishedYes

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    Kanchibhotla, S. C., Mather, K. A., Thalamuthu, A., Zhuang, L., Schofield, P. R., Kwok, J. B. J., ... Sachdev, P. S. (2014). Genetics of microstructure of the corpus callosum in older adults. PLoS ONE, 9(12), 1-17. [e0113181].