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The Twin and Family Study

Heritability of Fatty Liver as Measured by MRI: a Cross-Sectional Study of Twins and Family Members

PI: Rohit Loomba



Nonalcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD) is the most common liver disease in the United States. The cause of NAFLD is poorly defined but is thought to involve complex interactions of genetic and environmental factors. NAFLD is often associated with the traits of the metabolic syndrome including diabetes, high cholesterol or elevated blood pressure. Currently, there are no accurate noninvasive means of evaluating NAFLD and its more serious form which includes inflammation that may lead to severe scarring in the liver. The goal of this study is to evaluate shared genetic factors that underlie NAFLD and features of the metabolic syndrome as determined by blood work and radiographic studies (including magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) and ultrasound) in a cohort of twins and first degree relatives. This study is being funded by the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney diseases (NIDDK).

This is a cross-sectional study consisting of a one-time visit by twin pairs or first-degree relatives. We plan to recruit a total sample of 500 subjects, of which 240 will be twins (120 twin pairs) and 260 will be sibling-sibling or offspring-parent or two (or more) first degree relatives.

The study consists of a single visit. For each subject, the study visit will be for 1.5 hours, the magnetic resonance techniques will total 20-30 minutes, and ultrasound (ARFI) will be 10 minutes in duration. For each subject, the total study visit will be about 2-2.5 hours. Study participants will be asked to come in a fasting state for the blood draw and will receive a physical exam and undergo imaging (magnetic resonance techniques and ultrasound). In addition, participants will be asked questions about alcohol consumption and medication use.

Note: We are currently enrolling patients for this study.

Download informed consent form (pdf)

Study flier (pdf)


For additional questions regarding this study please contact:

Archana Bhatt

Clinical Research Coordinator

200 West Arbor drive, MC 8413

San Diego, CA 92103-8413

Phone: (619) 471-3915

Fax: (619) 543-2160