This trial is active, not recruiting.

Condition twin brain development
Sponsor University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill
Collaborator National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH)
Start date April 2004
End date March 2020
Trial size 600 participants
Trial identifier NCT01409746, 03-0989, R01MH070890-05


The purpose of this study is to study the role of genes and environment in early brain development using a twin approach. The investigators will use magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) to study brain structure and it's relationship to cognitive development. Specifically, the investigators will study cortical gray and white matter volumes, volumes of subcortical structures and cerebellum, as well as diffusion properties in major white matter tracts using DTI tractography.

United States No locations recruiting
Other countries No locations recruiting

Study Design

Observational model cohort
Time perspective prospective
twin pairs

Primary Outcomes

Brain Gray Matter Volume
time frame: Change in heritability from birth to age 6 years
Brain white matter tract integrity
time frame: Change in heritability from birth to age 6 years

Secondary Outcomes

Mullen composite Score
time frame: 1,2,4,6 years

Eligibility Criteria

Male or female participants up to 6 years old.

Inclusion Criteria: - twins Exclusion Criteria: - major medical, obstetrical or neurological complications

Additional Information

Official title Early Brain Development in Twins
Principal investigator John H Gilmore, MD
Description Twin studies have been critical in determining the contributions of genetic and environmental factors to normal brain structure and for understanding abnormalities of brain development that underlie neurodevelopmental and neuropsychiatric disorders. In adults and older children, twin studies indicate that genes play a significant role in the variability of global brain volumes, including total brain, total gray and total white matter volumes. Other than this current study, there have been no studies of twin brain development in early childhood, the period of brain development implicated in the pathogenesis of many psychiatric disorders. In the first funding cycle of this grant, the investigators used prenatal ultrasound and neonatal MRI to study discordance of early brain development, and to determine genetic and environmental contributions to neonatal brain structure. The investigators have and have developed a unique and valuable cohort of twins, having recruited and scanned over 100 twin pairs. The investigators found that discordance of prenatal brain size in MZ twins is similar to that in DZ twins, but that by 1 month after birth, discordance of overall brain volume in MZ twins is already less than in DZ twins. Contrary to our original hypothesis, statistical modeling of neonatal MRI brain volumes in our twin cohort indicates that global tissue volumes are highly heritable, similar to that observed in older children and adults. Therefore, it appears that genetic programs act very early in postnatal brain development to determine global tissue volumes. Interestingly, preliminary longitudinal mapping of correlations in gray matter density indicate correlations decrease in the first year of life, perhaps as the result of rapid brain growth in the first years of life. The investigators also found that while global white matter volumes are highly heritable, diffusion tensor properties of specific white matter tracts are not. In the next funding cycle, the investigators propose to continue enlarging this unique cohort and to follow them through age 6 years with structural MRI, diffusion tensor imaging (DTI), and developmental assessments to determine how genetic and environmental factors contribute to brain development in the first years of life.
Trial information was received from ClinicalTrials.gov and was last updated in December 2015.
Information provided to ClinicalTrials.gov by University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill.