Twin study explores factors that influence the course of macular degeneration.
Article Type: Brief article
Subject: Macular degeneration (Development and progression)
Macular degeneration (Research)
Macular degeneration (Reports)
Macular degeneration (Risk factors)
Twin studies (Reports)
Pub Date: 08/01/2011
Publication: Name: Journal of Visual Impairment & Blindness Publisher: American Foundation for the Blind Audience: Academic Format: Magazine/Journal Subject: Health Copyright: COPYRIGHT 2011 American Foundation for the Blind ISSN: 0145-482X
Issue: Date: August, 2011 Source Volume: 105 Source Issue: 8
Topic: Event Code: 310 Science & research
Accession Number: 265870244
Full Text: Tufts Medical Center scientists recently published their investigation of identical twins from the U.S. World War II Twin Registry. "Smoking, Dietary Betaine, Methionine, and Vitamin D in Monozygotic Twins with Discordant Macular Degeneration: Epigenetic Implications," which appeared in the July 2011 issue of Ophthalmology, is the first study to examine identical twin pairs in which one twin had early age-related macular degeneration (AMD), and the other had late-stage AMD. By examining identical twins with the same genes, but whose disease was at different stages, researchers hoped to identify environmental and behavioral factors that contribute to severity of the disease. "We wanted to know why, if they have the same genes, do they have different stages of the disease," explained lead researcher Johanna Seddon, director of the Epidemiology and Genetics Service and professor of ophthalmology at Tufts University School of Medicine. The study evaluated pairs of elderly male twins and used a survey of personal dietary and health habits to determine variations. Twins whose macular degeneration was at the early stages tended to consume more vitamin D from dietary sources such as fish or milk than their brothers. Similarly, Dr. Seddon's research team also found that higher intakes of betaine and methionine were linked to a slower progression of the disease. Betaine is found in fish, grains, and spinach, and methionine is found in poultry, fish, and dairy foods. The study also found that, among the pairs of twins, the twin who was the heavier smoker tended to have the more severe case of macular degeneration. These results indicate that both genetic susceptibility and environmental factors are important in the development of AMD; and further underscores the importance of modifiable behaviors, especially avoiding smoking and eating a healthy diet, to help prevent or delay the progression of macular degeneration. For more information, contact: Johanna Seddon, Department of Ophthalmology, Tufts University School of Medicine, 136 Harrison Avenue, Boston, MA 02110; web site: .
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