The epigenetic status of a specific genomic region is determined by the sum of genetic and cumulative environmental and stochastic factors. Therefore, a within-pair comparison of MZ twins discordant for disease is an ideal design for studying the contribution of epigenetic factors in disease development. Our epigenetic projects take advantage of the existing, well phenotyped and genotyped trait discordant and concordant MZ and DZ twin pairs from the Finnish Twin Cohort Study.
Investigation of epigenetic marks in complex diseases and traits using discordant MZ twin pair study design
The functional genotype of MZ co-twins diverges over time as epigenetic and various environmental effects modify gene expression. At the same time the genomic DNA sequence remains unchanged, except for possible somatic mutations. The aim of this project is to pinpoint tissue specific epigenetic changes associated with various traits by studying DNA methylation, histone modifications and microRNA in whole genome scale in trait discordant MZ twin pairs.
Assessing genetic and epigenetic alterations and their interaction with pertinent environmental or lifestyle exposures to obtain more precise estimates of their individual and joint effects on common disease progression and risk
We combine the data on genetic and epigenetic alterations and assess their interaction with pertinent environmental/lifestyle exposures to obtain more precise estimates of their individual and joint effects on common disease progression and risk. Our aim is to overlay epigenotype and genotype data to perform thorough epi&genetic epidemiological analyses in various complex traits.
Traits under investigation include
Obesity and metabolic syndrome, essential hypertension, smoking and nicotine dependence, substance use, hormone replacement therapy, aging and early development.