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Epidemiol Prev. 2003 Sep-Oct;27(5):297-302.

[Twins in biomedical research and the creation of the "National Twin Registry"].

[Article in Italian]

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  • 1Centro nazionale di epidemiologia, sorveglianza e promozione della salute, Istituto superiore di sanità, viale Regina Elena 299, 00161 Roma.


Twins are a valuable resource for the study of complex traits. The twin method is substantially based on the comparison between correlations and concordance in monozygotic (MZ) and dizygotic (DZ) twins and allows several applications in biomedical and molecular genetic research. It allows either the qualitative and quantitative evaluation of the influences that genetic and environmental factors exert on phenotypes or the estimation of trait variability. Moreover, classical genetic linkage analysis is more powerful if performed in DZ twins. However, the twin method has some pitfalls, such as the necessity that collected samples be representative of both twin and general population. For this reason, over the last few years, a number of Countries have established population-based twin registers, which guarantee the maximum level of representation and, consequently, are of extreme value for epidemiological studies. Italy is also implementing a national twin register. The following is the description of the procedure that led to the establishment of the Italian Twin Registry.

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