Heritability of Testis Size

G.F. Estourgie-van Burk, M. Bartels, H.A. Delemarre-van de Waal, D.I. Boomsma

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Testis size is an important feature of male pubertal development. The genetic and environmental contributions to variation in human testis size have hardly been studied. We estimated the heritability of human testicular size in a group of mono- and dizygotic twins and their non-twin brothers (145 twins and 20 brothers from 95 families). Participants were 18 years old on average and all had reached Tanner development stage 4 or higher. Dizygotic twins and their siblings had a larger mean testis volume than monozygotic twins and their siblings. There was significant familial resemblance, with higher correlations in monozygotic twin pairs (0.59) than in dizygotic twin and sibling pairs (0.34). Heritability was estimated at 59% (95% CI = 37-75%), but a model that excluded genetic influences and attributed all familial resemblance to shared environment, fitted the data only marginally worse. The finding of larger mean testis volume in dizygotic twins may be of interest for future research into the mechanisms underlying dizygotic twinning.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)351-355
JournalTwin Research and Human Genetics
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - 2009

Cohort Studies

  • Netherlands Twin Register (NTR)


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