Genetic and Environmental Contributions to Covariation Between DHEA and Testosterone in Adolescent Twins

Carol A. Van Hulle, Mollie N. Moore, Elizabeth A. Shirtcliff, Kathryn Lemery, H. Hill Goldsmith

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

6 Scopus citations

Abstract

Although several studies have shown that pubertal tempo and timing are shaped by genetic and environmental factors, few studies consider to what extent endocrine triggers of puberty are shaped by genetic and environmental factors. Doing so moves the field from examining correlated developmentally-sensitive biomarkers toward understanding what drives those associations. Two puberty related hormones, dehydroepiandrosterone and testosterone, were assayed from salivary samples in 118 MZ (62 % female), 111 same sex DZ (46 % female) and 103 opposite-sex DZ twin pairs, aged 12–16 years (M = 13.1, SD = 1.3). Pubertal status was assessed with a composite of mother- and self-reports. We used biometric models to estimate the genetic and environmental influences on the variance and covariance in testosterone and DHEA, with and without controlling for their association with puberty, and to test for sex differences. In males, the variance in testosterone and pubertal status was due to shared and non-shared environmental factors; variation in DHEA was due to genetic and non-shared environmental factors. In females, variance in testosterone was due to genetic and non-shared environmental factors; genetic, shared, and non-shared environmental factors contributed equally to variation in DHEA. In males, the testosterone-DHEA covariance was primarily due to shared environmental factors that overlapped with puberty as well as shared and non-shared environmental covariation specific to testosterone and DHEA. In females, the testosterone-DHEA covariance was due to genetic factors overlapping with pubertal status, and shared and non-shared environmental covariation specific to testosterone and DHEA.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)324-340
Number of pages17
JournalBehavior Genetics
Volume45
Issue number3
DOIs
StatePublished - May 1 2015

Keywords

  • Adolescents
  • Behavior genetics
  • DHEA
  • Puberty
  • Testosterone
  • Twins

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Genetics
  • Genetics(clinical)
  • Ecology, Evolution, Behavior and Systematics

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