In 2004 the Netherlands Twin Register (NTR) started a large scale biological sample collection in twin families to create a resource for genetic studies on health, lifestyle and personality. Between January 2004 and July 2008, adult participants from NTR research projects were invited into the study. During a home visit between 7:00 and 10:00 am, fasting blood and morning urine samples were collected. Fertile women were bled on day 2–4 of the menstrual cycle, or in their pill-free week. Biological samples were collected for DNA isolation, gene expression studies, creation of cell lines and for biomarker assessment. At the time of blood sampling, additional phenotypic information concerning health, medication use, body composition and smoking was collected. Of the participants contacted, 69% participated. Blood and urine samples were collected in 9,530 participants (63% female, average age 44.4 (SD 15.5) years) from 3,477 families. Lipid profile, glucose, insulin, HbA1c, haematology, CRP, fibrinogen, liver enzymes and creatinine have been assessed. Longitudinal survey data on health, personality and lifestyle are currently available for 90% of all participants. Genome-wide SNP data are available for 3,524 participants, with additional genotyping ongoing. The NTR biobank, combined with the extensive phenotypic information available within the NTR, provides a valuable resource for the study of genetic determinants of individual differences in mental and physical health. It offers opportunities for DNA-based and gene expression studies as well as for future metabolomic and proteomic projects.
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