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Sample images illustrating eyebrow thickness classified into three categories, namely 0-thin, 1-medium and 2-thick. Credit: Journal of Investigative Dermatology

The first gene mapping study of eyebrow thickness in Europeans uncovered three previously unreported genetic loci, as reported in a letter to the editor in Journal of Investigative Dermatology.

The study conducted by the International Visible Trait Genetics (VisiGen) Consortium demonstrates that the appearance of the eyebrows has partly the same and partly different underlying genes in people from different parts of the world.

The look of human eyebrows isn’t just a matter of grooming, it’s in the genes. Eyebrow thickness, like any other aesthetic trait, is highly heritable. Until now, genetic knowledge of eyebrow thickness has been very limited and limited exclusively to non-Europeans. This study is the first genome-wide association study (GWAS) of eyebrow thickness in Europeans.

By identifying new genes and rediscovering some of the previously identified genes in non-Europeans, the study expands genetic knowledge on human eyebrow variation, which is of wide interest and has implications for dermatology and other fields.

Previous studies have been conducted among Latino and Chinese individuals, establishing four genetic loci associated with eyebrow thickness. Since no GWAS of European eyebrow thickness had been reported, the researchers did not know whether the genetic effects of eyebrow thickness described in non-Europeans persisted in Europeans, or whether there were specific genetic loci from Europe involved in eyebrow thickness, or both.






The study among 9,948 individuals from four European ancestry groups not only uncovered three previously unreported genetic loci associated with eyebrow thickness, but also rediscovered two of four genetic loci previously found in non-Europeans. Two other genetic loci previously reported in non-Europeans had minimal effects in Europeans, due to very low allele frequencies in Europeans. Credit: Journal of Investigative Dermatology

Lead researcher Prof. Dr. Manfred Kayser, Department of Genetic Identification, Erasmus MC University Medical Center Rotterdam, and co-chair of the VisiGen Consortium responsible for this study, commented: ‘Despite immense efforts in mapping the genes underlying the traits human complexes, we still know much more about the genes that make us sick than the ones behind our healthy appearance. For the first time, we have performed a genetic mapping study on variation in eyebrow thickness in Europeans.”

‘Previous genetic knowledge of eyebrow thickness was limited and restricted to non-Europeans only. We discovered new genes involved in eyebrow variation in Europeans and rediscovered some of the previously identified genes in non-Europeans.’

The study among 9,948 individuals from four European ancestry groups not only uncovered three previously unreported genetic loci associated with eyebrow thickness, but also rediscovered two of four genetic loci previously found in non-Europeans. Two other genetic loci previously reported in non-Europeans had minimal effects in Europeans, due to very low allele frequencies in Europeans.

Prof. Dr. Kayser concluded: “Our study significantly improves the genetic understanding of human eyebrow appearance by increasing the number of known genes from four to seven and provides new targets for future functional studies.”

“Having demonstrated that eyebrow variation is driven by shared and distinct genetic factors among continental populations, our results underscore the need to study populations of diverse ancestry to unravel the genetic basis of human traits, including, but not limited to, l ‘physical aspect. ”

More information:
Fuduan Peng et al, Genome-wide association studies identify DNA variants affecting eyebrow thickness variation in European and mainland populations, Journal of Investigative Dermatology (2023). DOI: 10.1016/j.jid.2022.11.026

About the magazine:
Journal of Investigative Dermatology

#study #discovers #genes #define #appearance #eyebrows

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