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Journal Article

Brain structural differences in monozygotic twins discordant for body mass index


Pleger,  Burkhard
External Organizations;
Department Neurology, MPI for Human Cognitive and Brain Sciences, Max Planck Society;

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Weise, C., Bachmann, T., & Pleger, B. (2019). Brain structural differences in monozygotic twins discordant for body mass index. NeuroImage, 201: 116006. doi:10.1016/j.neuroimage.2019.07.019.

Cite as: http://hdl.handle.net/21.11116/0000-0004-9189-D
Background:Substantial efforts have been made to investigate the neurobiological underpinnings of human obesity with a number of studies indicating a profoundinfluence of increased body weight on brain structure. Although body weight is known to be highly heritable, uncertainty remains regarding the respective contri-bution of genetic and environmental influences.Methods:In this study we used structural magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) data from the Human Connectome Project (HCP). Voxel-based morphometry (VBM) wasapplied to study BMI-associated differences in gray matter volume (GMV) within monozygotic (MZ) twin pairs discordant for BMI (ΔBMI>2.5 kg*m2,n¼68 pairs).In addition, we investigated the relationship ofΔBMI (entire range) with GMV differences within the entire sample of MZ twin pairs (n¼153 pairs).Results:Analyses of BMI discordant twin pairs yielded less GMV in heavier twin siblings (p<0.05 FWETFCE; pairedt-Test) within the occipital and cerebellar cortex, theprefrontal cortex and the bilateral striatum including the nucleus accumbens. A highly converging pattern was found in regression analyses across the entire sample ofMZ twin pairs, withΔBMI being associated with less GMV in heavier MZ twins.Conclusion:While MZ twins share the same genetic background, ourfindings indicate that non-genetic influences and the mere presence of a higher BMI constituterelevant factors in the context of body weight related structural brain alterations.