Heritability of cervical spinal cord structure

Linda Solstrand Dahlberg, Olivia Viessmann, Clas Linnman
2020 Neurology: Genetics  
ObjectiveMeasures of spinal cord structure can be a useful phenotype to track disease severity and development; this observational study measures the hereditability of cervical spinal cord anatomy and its correlates in healthy human beings.MethodsTwin data from the Human Connectome Project were analyzed with semiautomated spinal cord segmentation, evaluating test-retest reliability and broad-sense heritability with an AE model. Relationships between spinal cord metrics, general physical
more » ... , regional brain structural measures, and motor function were assessed.ResultsWe found that the spinal cord C2 cross-sectional area (CSA), left-right width (LRW), and anterior-posterior width (APW) are highly heritable (85%–91%). All measures were highly correlated with the brain volume, and CSA only was positively correlated with thalamic volumes (p = 0.005) but negatively correlated with the occipital cortex area (p = 0.001). LRW was correlated with the participant's height (p = 0.00027). The subjects' sex significantly influenced these metrics. Analyses of a test-retest data set confirmed validity of the approach.ConclusionsThis study provides the evidence of genetic influence on spinal cord structure. MRI metrics of cervical spinal cord anatomy are robust and not easily influenced by nonpathological environmental factors, providing a useful metric for monitoring normal development and progression of neurodegenerative disorders affecting the spinal cord, including—but not limited to—spinal cord injury and MS.
doi:10.1212/nxg.0000000000000401 pmid:32185240 pmcid:PMC7061306 fatcat:zgm6sfgfufgddciylydhvazoeq