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TwinLIFE: The Twin Longitudinal Investigation of FEtal Discordance

  • Sophie G. Groene (a1) (a2), Pia Todtenhaupt (a1) (a2), Erik W. van Zwet (a3), Melissa van Pel (a4), Romy J. M. Berkhout (a1), Monique C. Haak (a5), Arno A. W. Roest (a6), Enrico Lopriore (a1), Jeanine M. M. van Klink (a1) and Bastiaan T. Heijmans (a2)...

Abstract

Lifelong health is thought to be partially set during intrauterine life by persistent epigenetic changes induced by the prenatal environment. To evaluate this hypothesis, we initiated a prospective longitudinal study in monochorionic (MC) twins: the TwinLIFE study. MC twins are monozygotic, thus in origin genetically identical, and share a single placenta. Although MC twins have many environmental factors in common, in one-third of the MC twin pairs, one fetus has significantly less access to nutrients and resources during pregnancy than its co-twin often resulting in a significant discordance in prenatal growth. Hence, MC twins constitute a unique natural experiment to study the influence of the prenatal environment on health. In TwinLIFE, we will chart intrapair differences in DNA methylation focusing on mesenchymal stromal cells isolated from cord as an advanced proxy of epigenetic dysregulation relevant for long-term health consequences. Next, we will follow up the MC twins for growth, cardiovascular and neurodevelopmental outcomes during childhood and evaluate the impact of an epigenetic signature at birth on future health. The current target is to include 100 MC twin pairs, but we aim to continue enrollment after procuring additional funding. TwinLIFE will not only address an unmet clinical need in the high-risk group of MC twins, but may also advance early-life strategies to prevent adverse growth, cardiovascular and neurodevelopmental outcomes in the general population.

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Copyright

This is an Open Access article, distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution licence (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/), which permits unrestricted re-use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.

Corresponding author

Author for correspondence: Bastiaan T. Heijmans, Email: b.t.heijmans@lumc.nl

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Keywords

TwinLIFE: The Twin Longitudinal Investigation of FEtal Discordance

  • Sophie G. Groene (a1) (a2), Pia Todtenhaupt (a1) (a2), Erik W. van Zwet (a3), Melissa van Pel (a4), Romy J. M. Berkhout (a1), Monique C. Haak (a5), Arno A. W. Roest (a6), Enrico Lopriore (a1), Jeanine M. M. van Klink (a1) and Bastiaan T. Heijmans (a2)...

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