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Gut. 1988 July; 29(7): 990–996.
PMCID: PMC1433769

Ulcerative colitis and Crohn's disease in an unselected population of monozygotic and dizygotic twins. A study of heritability and the influence of smoking.


By running the Swedish twin registry containing about 25,000 pairs of twins of the same sex together with the central national diagnosis register of hospital inpatients, 80 twin pairs suffering from inflammatory bowel disease were found. In the ulcerative colitis group one of 16 monozygotic pairs was concordant for the disease, but all the other 20 pairs (dizygotic or unknown zygosity) were discordant. In the Crohn's disease group eight of 18 monozygotic pairs and one of 26 dizygotic pairs were concordant. The proband concordance rate among monozygotic twins was 6.3% for ulcerative colitis and 58.3% for Crohn's disease. The calculated heritability of liability based on monozygotic pairs was 0.53 and 1.0 respectively. Thus heredity as an aetiological factor is stronger in Crohn's disease than in ulcerative colitis. Monozygotic twins with Crohn's disease were more likely to be smokers than monozygotic twins with ulcerative colitis. Smoking did not explain the discordance of twin pairs with either ulcerative colitis, or Crohn's disease. The combination of identical heredity and similar smoking habit is not sufficient to cause disease.

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