Genetic and environmental impacts on DNA methylation levels in twins

Idil Yet, Pei Chien Tsai, Juan E. Castillo-Fernandez, Elena Carnero-Montoro, Jordana T. Bell*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

25 Scopus citations


Epigenetics describes the study of cellular modifications that can modify the expression of genes without changing the DNA sequence. DNA methylation is one of the most stable and prevalent epigenetic mechanisms. Twin studies have been a valuable model for unraveling the genetic and epigenetic epidemiology of complex traits, and now offer a potential to dissect the factors that impact DNA methylation variability and its biomedical significance. The twin design specifically allows for the study of genetic, environmental and lifestyle factors, and their potential interactions, on epigenetic profiles. Furthermore, genetically identical twins offer a unique opportunity to assess nongenetic impacts on epigenetic profiles. Here, we summarize recent findings from twin studies of DNA methylation profiles across tissues, to define current knowledge regarding the genetic and nongenetic factors that influence epigenetic variation.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)105-117
Number of pages13
Issue number1
StatePublished - 01 2016
Externally publishedYes

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2016 Future Medicine Ltd.


  • DNA methylation
  • epigenetics
  • heritability
  • methylation quantitative trait loci
  • twin studies


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