Lens fluorescence and skin fluorescence in the Copenhagen Twin Cohort Eye Study: Covariates and heritability

Jakob Kondras Bjerager, Sami Dabbah, Mohamed Belmouhand, Simon P Rothenbuehler, Birgit Sander, Michael Larsen


Lens and skin fluorescence are related to the systemic accumulation of advanced glycation end products, which is accelerated in diabetes. We have examined lens fluorescence and skin fluorescence in healthy adult twins. The study enrolled twins aged median 59 years from a national population-based registry. Diabetic individuals were excluded from analysis. The interrelatedness between fluorescence parameters and relations between fluorescence and age, current HbA1c and smoking pack years were examined using correlation tests and mixed model linear regression analyses. Broad-sense heritability was analyzed and compared for lens fluorescence, skin fluorescence and HbA1c. Lens fluorescence and skin fluorescence were crudely interrelated (R = 0.38). In linear regression analyses, age explained a larger fraction of the variance in lens fluorescence (R2 = 32%) than in skin fluorescence (R2 = 20%), whereas HbA1c explained smaller variance fractions (R2 = 3% and 8%, respectively) followed by smoking pack years (4% and 3%, respectively). In multivariate analyses, age, HbA1c and smoking pack years combined explained more of the variance in lens fluorescence (R2 = 35%) than in skin fluorescence (R2 = 21%), but the influence of HbA1c on lens fluorescence was not statistically significant (p = .2). Age-adjusted broad-sense heritability was 85% for lens fluorescence, 53% for skin fluorescence and 71% for HbA1c in best fitting heritability models. Both fluorescence parameters increased with age, current glycemia and cumulative smoking. Lens fluorescence was found to be a predominantly heritable trait, whereas skin fluorescence was more influenced by environmental factors and closer related to current glycemia. The results suggest that skin fluorophores have a faster turn-over than lens fluorophores.

Original languageEnglish
Article numbere0256975
JournalPLoS One
Issue number9
Pages (from-to)e0256975
Publication statusPublished - 9 Sept 2021


  • Child, Preschool
  • Cohort Studies
  • Denmark/epidemiology
  • Eye/anatomy & histology
  • Female
  • Fluorescence
  • Humans
  • Infant
  • Lens, Crystalline/anatomy & histology
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Ocular Physiological Phenomena/genetics
  • Skin/anatomy & histology
  • Twin Studies as Topic
  • Twins, Monozygotic/genetics


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