Skip to main content

The UK Adult Twin Registry (TwinsUK Resource)

  • Alireza Moayyeri (a1), Christopher J. Hammond (a1), Deborah J. Hart (a1) and Timothy D. Spector (a1)

TwinsUK is a nation-wide registry of volunteer twins in the United Kingdom, with about 12,000 registered twins (83% female, equal number of monozygotic and dizygotic twins, predominantly middle-aged and older). Over the last 20 years, questionnaire and blood/urine/tissue samples have been collected on over 7,000 subjects, as well as three comprehensive phenotyping assessments in the clinical facilities of the Department of Twin Research and Genetic Epidemiology, King's College London. The primary focus of study has been the genetic basis of healthy aging process and complex diseases, including cardiovascular, metabolic, musculoskeletal, and ophthalmologic disorders. Alongside the detailed clinical, biochemical, behavioral, and socio-economic characterization of the study population, the major strength of TwinsUK is availability of several ‘omics’ technologies for the participants. These include genome-wide scans of single nucleotide variants, next-generation sequencing, exome sequencing, epigenetic markers (MeDIP sequencing), gene expression arrays and RNA sequencing, telomere length measures, metabolomic profiles, and gut flora microbiomics. The scientific community now can freely access parts of the phenotype data from the ‘TwinsUK’, and interested researchers are encouraged to contact us via our Web site ( for future collaborations.

Corresponding author
address for correspondence: Professor Timothy D. Spector, Department of Twin Research and Genetic Epidemiology, King's College London, St. Thomas’ Hospital, London SE1 7EH, United Kingdom. E-mail:
Hide All
Andrew, T., Hart, D. J., Snieder, H., de, L. M., Spector, T. D., & MacGregor, A. J. (2001). Are twins and singletons comparable? A study of disease-related and lifestyle characteristics in adult women. Twin Research, 4, 464477.
Aulchenko, Y. S., Ripatti, S., Lindqvist, I., et al. (2009). Loci influencing lipid levels and coronary heart disease risk in 16 European population cohorts. Nature Genetics, 41, 4755.
Bell, J. T., & Spector, T. D. (2011). A twin approach to unraveling epigenetics. Trends in Genetics, 27, 116125.
Bell, J. T., Tsai, P. C., Yang, T. P., Pidsley, R., Nisbet, J., Glass, D., & Deloukas, P. (2012). Epigenome-wide scans identify differentially methylated regions for age and age-related phenotypes in a healthy ageing population. PLoS Genetics, 8, e1002629.
Codd, V., Mangino, M., van der Harst, P., Braund, P. S., Kaiser, M., Beveridge, A. J., & Samani, N. J. (2010). Common variants near TERC are associated with mean telomere length. Nature Genetics, 42, 197199.
Dehghan, A., Dupuis, J., Barbalic, M., Bis, J. C., Eiriksdottir, G., Lu, C., Pellikka, N., & Chasman, D. I. (2011). Meta-analysis of genome-wide association studies in >80 000 subjects identifies multiple loci for C-reactive protein levels. Circulation, 123, 731738.
Duffy, D. L., Iles, M. M., Glass, D., Zhu, G., Barrett, J. H., Höiom, V., & Montgomery, G. W. (2010). IRF4 variants have age-specific effects on nevus count and predispose to melanoma. American Journal of Human Genetics, 87, 616.
Dupuis, J., Langenberg, C., Prokopenko, I., Saxena, R., Soranzo, N., Jackson, A. U., . . . Barroso, I., for the MAGIC investigators. (2010). New genetic loci implicated in fasting glucose homeostasis and their impact on type 2 diabetes risk. Nature Genetics, 42, 105116.
Elks, C. E., Perry, J. R., Sulem, P., Chasman, D. I., Franceschini, N., He, C., & Murray, A. (2010). Thirty new loci for age at menarche identified by a meta-analysis of genome-wide association studies. Nature Genetics, 42, 10771085.
Evangelou, E., Valdes, A. M., Kerkhof, H. J., et al. (2011). Meta-analysis of genome-wide association studies confirms a susceptibility locus for knee osteoarthritis on chromosome 7q22. Annals of the Rheumatic Diseases, 70, 349355.
Ganesh, S. K., Zakai, N. A., van Rooij, F. J., et al. (2009). Multiple loci influence erythrocyte phenotypes in the CHARGE Consortium. Nature Genetics, 41, 11911198.
Grundberg, E., Small, K. S., Hedman, A. K., Nica, A. C., Buil, A., Keildson, S., . . . Spector, T. D. (2012). Mapping cis- and trans-regulatory effects across multiple tissues in twins. Nat. Genet, 44, 10841089.
Hysi, P. G., Young, T. L., Mackey, D. A., et al. (2010). A genome-wide association study for myopia and refractive error identifies a susceptibility locus at 15q25. Nature Genetics, 42, 902905.
Kolz, M., Johnson, T., Sanna, S., et al. (2009). Meta-analysis of 28,141 individuals identifies common variants within five new loci that influence uric acid concentrations. PLoS Genetics, 5, e1000504.
Lango, A. H., Estrada, K., Lettre, G., et al. (2010). Hundreds of variants clustered in genomic loci and biological pathways affect human height. Nature, 467, 832838.
Lindgren, C. M., Heid, I. M., Randall, J. C., et al. (2009). Genome-wide association scan meta-analysis identifies three Loci influencing adiposity and fat distribution. PLoS Genetics, 5, e1000508.
Mangino, M., Richards, J. B., Soranzo, N., et al. (2009). A genome-wide association study identifies a novel locus on chromosome 18q12.2 influencing white cell telomere length. Journal of Medical Genetics, 46, 451454.
Moayyeri, A., Hammond, C. J., Hart, D. J., & Spector, T. D. (2012a). Effects of age on genetic influence on bone loss over 17 years in women: the Healthy Ageing Twin Study (HATS). J Bone Miner Res, 27, 21702178.
Moayyeri, A., Hammond, C. J., Valdes, A. M.., & Spector, T. D. (2012b). Cohort profile: TwinsUK and Healthy Ageing Twin Study. International Journal of Epidemiology. Available online, doi: 10.1093/ije/dyr207.
Newton-Cheh, C., Johnson, T., Gateva, V., Tobin, M. D., Bochud, M., Coin, L, & Munroe, P. B. (2009). Genome-wide association study identifies eight loci associated with blood pressure. Nature Genetics, 41, 666676.
Nica, A. C., Parts, L., Glass, D., Nisbet, J., Barrett, A., Sekowska, M., . . . Spector, T. D., & MuTHER Consortium. (2011). The architecture of gene regulatory variation across multiple human tissues: the MuTHER study. PLoS Genetics, 7, e1002003.
Nolte, I. M., Wallace, C., Newhouse, S. J., Waggott, D., Fu, J., Soranzo, N., & Bradbury, L. (2009). Common genetic variation near the phospholamban gene is associated with cardiac repolarisation: Meta-analysis of three genome-wide association studies. PLoS One, 4, e6138.
Padmanabhan, S., Melander, O., Johnson, T., Di Blasio, A. M., Lee, W. K., Gentilini, D., & Dominiczak, A. F. (2010). Genome-wide association study of blood pressure extremes identifies variant near UMOD associated with hypertension. PLoS Genetics, 6, e1001177.
Panoutsopoulou, K., Southam, L., Elliott, K. S., Wrayner, N., Zhai, G., Beazley, C., & Loughlin, J. (2011). Insights into the genetic architecture of osteoarthritis from stage 1 of the arcOGEN study. Annals of the Rheumatic Diseases, 70, 864867.
Repapi, E., Sayers, I., Wain, L. V., Burton, P. R., Johnson, T., Obeidat, M., & Tobin, M. D. (2010). Genome-wide association study identifies five loci associated with lung function. Nature Genetics, 42, 3644.
Richards, J. B., Kawoura, F. K., Rivadeneira, F., Styrkársdó;ttir, U., Estrada, K., Halldórsson, B. V., . . . Spector, T. D., for the GEFOS Consortium. (2009a). Collaborative meta-analysis: associations of 150 candidate genes with osteoporosis and osteoporotic fracture. Annals of Internal Medicine, 151, 528537.
Richards, J. B., Waterworth, D., O'Rahilly, S., Hivert, M.-F., Loos, R. J. F., Perry, J. R. B., . . . Spector, T. D., & GIANT Consortium. (2009b). A genome-wide association study reveals variants in ARL15 that influence adiponectin levels. PLoS Genetics, 5, e1000768.
Smith, N. L., Chen, M. H., Dehghan, A., Strachan, D. P., Basu, S., Soranzo, N., & O'Donnell, C. J. (2010). Novel associations of multiple genetic loci with plasma levels of factor VII, factor VIII, and von Willebrand factor: The CHARGE (Cohorts for Heart and Aging Research in Genome Epidemiology) Consortium. Circulation, 121, 13821392.
Spector, T. D., & Williams, F. M. (2006). The UK Adult Twin Registry (TwinsUK). Twin Research & Human Genetics, 9, 899906.
Speliotes, E. K., Willer, C. J., Berndt, S. I., et al. (2010). Association analyses of 249,796 individuals reveal 18 new loci associated with body mass index. Nature Genetics, 42, 937948.
Suhre, K., Shin, S. Y., Petersen, A. K., Monda, K. L., Thorleifsson, G., Jackson, A. U., & Loos, R. J. (2011). Human metabolic individuality in biomedical and pharmaceutical research. Nature, 477, 5460.
Willer, C. J., Speliotes, E. K., Loos, R. J., Li, S., Lindgren, C. M., Heid, I. M., . . . Hirschhorn, J. N., & Genetic Investigation of Anthropometric Traits Consortium. (2009). Six new loci associated with body mass index highlight a neuronal influence on body weight regulation. Nature Genetics, 41, 2534.
Zhai, G., Teumer, A., Stolk, L., Perry, J. R., Vandenput, L., Coviello, A. D., & Wallaschofski, H. (2011). Eight common genetic variants associated with serum DHEAS levels suggest a key role in ageing mechanisms. PLoS Genetics, 7, e1002025.
Zhai, G., van Meurs, J. B., Livshits, G., Meulenbelt, I., Valdes, A. M., Soranzo, N., & Spector, T. D. (2009). A genome-wide association study suggests that a locus within the ataxin 2 binding protein 1 gene is associated with hand osteoarthritis: the Treat-OA consortium. Journal of Medical Genetics, 46, 614616.
Zhai, G., Wang-Sattler, R., Hart, D. J., Arden, N. K., Hakim, A. J., Illig, T., & Spector, T. D. (2010). Serum branched-chain amino acid to histidine ratio: A novel metabolomic biomarker of knee osteoarthritis. Annals of the Rheumatic Diseases, 69, 12271231.
Recommend this journal

Email your librarian or administrator to recommend adding this journal to your organisation's collection.

Twin Research and Human Genetics
  • ISSN: 1832-4274
  • EISSN: 1839-2628
  • URL: /core/journals/twin-research-and-human-genetics
Please enter your name
Please enter a valid email address
Who would you like to send this to? *



Altmetric attention score

Full text views

Total number of HTML views: 0
Total number of PDF views: 0 *
Loading metrics...

Abstract views

Total abstract views: 0 *
Loading metrics...

* Views captured on Cambridge Core between <date>. This data will be updated every 24 hours.

Usage data cannot currently be displayed