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Hoffmann, R. A wiki for the life sciences where authorship matters. Nature Genetics (2008)

Effects of twinning, birth size, and postnatal growth on glucose tolerance and hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal function in postpubertal sheep.

Low birth weight is associated with postnatal physiological changes, including impaired glucose tolerance and increased cortisol secretion, that may predispose to disease in adulthood. Twins are born lighter than singletons, but there are conflicting data regarding the association between birth weight and postnatal physiology in twins. We studied glucose tolerance and ACTH and cortisol responses to a combined corticotropin-releasing hormone and arginine vasopressin (CRH + AVP) challenge in postpubertal female twin (n = 7 twin pairs) and singleton (n = 13) sheep from the same flock. There were no differences in glucose tolerance between twins and singletons and no association with birth weight. Twins had a greater ACTH (P < 0.05), but not cortisol, response to CRH + AVP than singletons. ACTH area under the curve was inversely related to birth weight in both singletons [R(2) = 0.31, P = 0.05; -8,311 (SD 3,736)] and twins (R(2) = 0.49); in twins, this was due to the within-twin pair rather than the between-twin pair coefficient in the regression analysis [P = 0.02, -26,856 (9,806) vs. P = 0.1, 8,619 (4,950)]. We conclude that the reduced fetal growth in twins has postnatal consequences for hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal function and that this is determined by factors specific to the fetus (within-twin pair) rather than by shared maternal factors (between-twin pair). Studies investigating the associations between fetal growth and postnatal outcomes in twins benefit from an appropriate singleton control group and from analyses evaluating the contribution from both between- and within-pair coefficients in twins.[1]


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