Abstract

Background: Although it is known that some corneal diseases and degenerations have a significant heritable background, heritability on corneal endothelial cell density (ECD) has never been clearly determined. Our aim was to determine the heritability of corneal ECD. Material and methods: Corneal ECD of 114 eyes (66 eyes of 33 monozygotic and 48 eyes of 24 dizygotic pairs; mean age 49.0 ± 15.5 years) was investigated by Konan Noncon Robo NSP-9900 specular microscopy. Structural equation modeling (ACE model) was applied. Results: Endothelial corneal cell density was highly heritable (82.0%, 95%CI, 70.0–92.0%), whereas the unique environmental contribution was 18.0% (95%CI, 8.0–29.0%). Shared environmental factors had no influence on the endothelial corneal cell density. Discussion: In this twin study, we established first that the density of the corneal endothelial cells is strongly heritable, which should stimulate future genetic studies to identify genes and pathways that are involved in determining ECD which might in turn lead to future treatments to prevent EC loss.