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Neurology. 2004 Jan 27;62(2):208-11.

High concordance for essential tremor in monozygotic twins of old age.

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  • 1Department of Neurology, Christian-Albrechts-University Kiel, Germany.



To assess the relative contribution of genetic and environmental factors for the etiology of essential tremor (ET) and to explore the effect of different diagnostic criteria.


A total of 2,448 twins of the Danish twin registry aged 70 years or more were screened for ET by an interview and an Archimedes spiral test. All twin pairs (n = 162) with a positive screening test of at least one of the twins were recontacted and 218 individuals (109 pairs) were interviewed and examined by a movement disorder specialist. The consensus criteria of the Tremor Investigation Group were applied to diagnose ET.


Twenty-nine twins fulfilled the criteria of definite, 7 of probable, and 56 of possible ET. The probandwise concordance rate for the broadest definition of ET was 77% for monozygotic twins (MZ) and 59% for dizygotic twins (DZ). However, in an analysis restricted to cases of probable and definite ET, the concordance rates were 93% and 29%. The heritability for the liability to ET ranged from 93% to 99% using a general population prevalence of 1.2% for white 70+-year-olds. The inclusion of probable and exclusion of possible cases in the diagnosis of ET produced the highest concordance rates.


The high concordance among MZ twins of very old age in this first population-based twin study of ET suggests that a disease phenotype consisting of definite and probable ET has a high heritability and hence is a good candidate for a phenotype to be used in linkage studies.

[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
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