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Heritability of Cold and Heat Patterns: A Twin Study

  • Yoon-Mi Hur (a1), Hana Yu (a2), Hee-Jeong Jin (a2) and Siwoo Lee (a2)


In traditional East Asian medicine, cold–heat patterns have been widely used in the diagnosis and treatment of patients suffering from various diseases. The present study aimed to estimate the heritability of cold–heat patterns. Trained interviewers administered a cold–heat pattern questionnaire to 1,753 twins (mean age = 19.1 ± 3.1 years) recruited throughout South Korea. Correlations for the cold pattern (CP) were 0.42 (95% CI [0.28, 0.54]) for monozygotic (MZ) males, 0.16 (95% CI [-0.08, 0.39]) for dizygotic (DZ) males, 0.40 (95% CI [0.30, 0.49]) for MZ females, 0.30 (95% CI [0.12, 0.45]) for DZ females, and 0.07 (95% CI [-0.11, 0.25]) for opposite-sex DZ twins. The corresponding twin correlations for the heat pattern (HP) were 0.38 (95% CI [0.24, 0.51]), -0.22 (95% CI [-0.43, 0.02]), 0.34 (95% CI [0.24, 0.43]), 0.21 (95% CI [0.03, 0.37]), and 0.08 (95% CI [-0.10, 0.26]), respectively. These patterns of twin correlations suggested significant genetic effects on the HP and the CP. Model-fitting analysis revealed that heritability estimates in both sexes were 40% (95% CI [38, 42]) for the CP and 33% (95% CI [25, 42]) for the HP, with the remaining variances attributable to unique environmental variances. These estimates did not vary significantly with age during adolescence and young adulthood.

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This is an Open Access article, distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives licence (, which permits non-commercial re-use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is unaltered and is properly cited. The written permission of Cambridge University Press must be obtained for commercial re-use or in order to create a derivative work.

Corresponding author

address for correspondence: Hee-Jeong Jin, Mibyeong Research Center, Korea Institute of Oriental Medicine, Daejeon, South Korea. E-mail:


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Twin Research and Human Genetics
  • ISSN: 1832-4274
  • EISSN: 1839-2628
  • URL: /core/journals/twin-research-and-human-genetics
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