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SNPs Associated With Testosterone Levels Influence Human Facial Morphology

NCJ Number
Date Published
11 pages
This study examined the effects of testosterone-related genetic variants on facial morphology.
Many factors influence human facial morphology, including genetics, age, nutrition, biomechanical forces, and endocrine factors. Moreover, facial features clearly differ between males and females, and these differences are driven primarily by the influence of sex hormones during growth and development. Specific genetic variants are known to influence circulating sex hormone levels in humans, which the current study hypothesizes, in turn, affect facial features. This study tested 32 genetic variants across 22 candidate genes related to levels of testosterone, sex hormone-binding globulin (SHGB) and dehydroepiandrosterone sulfate (DHEAS) in three cohorts of healthy individuals for which 3D facial surface images were available (Pittsburgh 3DFN, Penn State and ALSPAC cohorts; total of 7,418). Facial shape was described using a recently developed extension of the dense-surface correspondence approach, in which the 3D facial surface was partitioned into a set of 63 hierarchically organized modules. Each variant was tested against each of the facial surface modules in a multivariate genetic association-testing framework and meta-analyzed. In addition, the association between these candidate SNPs and five facial ratios was investigated in the Pittsburgh 3DFN cohort. Two significant associations involving intronic variants of SHBG were found, and both showed an effect on mandible shape.These results indicate that testosterone-related genetic variants affect normal-range facial morphology, particularly facial features known to exhibit strong sexual dimorphism in humans. (publisher abstract modified)
Date Published: January 1, 2018