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Quantitative Tract-based White Matter Heritability in 1- and 2-year-old Twins

Department of Psychiatry, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, Chapel Hill, NC, USA.
Publication Date:
Hum Brain Mapp
Volume Number:
Issue Number:
Hum Brain Mapp. 2019 Mar;40(4):1164-73.
PubMed ID:
axial diffusivity, diffusion tensor imaging, fractional anisotropy, quantitative tractography, genetics, radial diffusivity
Appears in Collections:
Cancer Prevention and Research Institute of Texas
MH070890/National Institutes of Health
MH086633/National Institutes of Health
MH116527/National Institutes of Health
U54 EB005149/National Institutes of Health
U54 HD079124/National Institutes of Health/
DMS 1127914/National Science Foundation
DMS 1407655/National Science Foundation
SES 1357666/National Science Foundation
Generated Citation:
Lee S.J., Zhang J., Neale M.C., Styner M., Zhu H., Gilmore J.H. Quantitative Tract-based White Matter Heritability in 1- and 2-year-old Twins. Hum Brain Mapp. 2019 Mar;40(4):1164-73. PMID: 30368980.
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White matter (WM) microstructure, as determined by diffusion tensor imaging (DTI), is increasingly recognized as an important determinant of cognitive function and is also altered in neuropsychiatric disorders. Little is known about genetic and environmental influences on WM microstructure, especially in early childhood, an important period for cognitive development and risk for psychiatric disorders. We studied the heritability of DTI parameters, fractional anisotropy (FA), radial diffusivity (RD) and axial diffusivity (AD) along 34 tracts, including 10 bilateral fiber pathways and the respective subdivision, using quantitative tractography in a longitudinal sample of healthy children at 1 year (N = 215) and 2 years (N = 165) of age. We found that heritabilities for whole brain AD, RD, and FA were 0.48, 0.69, and 0.72 at age 1, and 0.59, 0.77, and 0.76 at age 2 and that mean heritabilities of tract-averaged AD, RD, and FA for individual bundles were moderate (over 0.4). However, the heritability of DTI change between 1 and 2 years of age was not significant for most tracts. We also demonstrated that point-wise heritability tended to be significant in the central portions of the tracts and was generally spatially consistent at ages 1 and 2 years. These results, especially when compared to heritability patterns in neonates, indicate that the heritability of WM microstructure is dynamic in early childhood and likely reflect heterogeneous maturation of WM tracts and differential genetic and environmental influences on maturation patterns.