Publications of B Forfo

Are the Variants of the Circle of Willis Determined by Genetic or Environmental Factors? Results of a Twin Study Running title: Circle of Willis Variants in Twins

Background: Anatomic variants of the circle of Willis (CW) are commonly observed in healthy subjects. Genetic and environmental factors influencing these variants remain unclear. Our aim was to assess the genetic and environmental background affecting variant CW phenotypes. Methods: A total of 122 adult healthy twins from the Hungarian Twin Registry (39 monozygotic (MZ) and 22 dizygotic (DZ) pairs, average age 49.7 ± 13.4 years) underwent Time-of-Flight magnetic resonance angiography and transcranial Doppler sonography. We investigated the anterior and posterior CW according to morphological categories. Prevalence and concordance rates of CW variants were calculated. MZ twins discordant for CW variants were analyzed for cardiovascular risk factors and altered blood flow. Results: Complete CW (45.0%) and bilaterally absent posterior communicating artery (PCoA) (22.5%) were the most prevalent variants in the anterior and posterior CW, respectively. There was no significant difference regarding the prevalence of variants across zygosity except for bilaterally hypoplastic PCoA (p = .02). DZ concordance was higher compared to MZ twins regarding morphological categories of the CW. Cardiovascular risk factors were not significantly associated with variant CW in MZ twins discordant to CW morphology. Flow parameters did not differ significantly among MZ twins discordant to CW variants. Conclusion: CW variants may not be determined by substantial genetic effects and are not influenced by altered blood flow in healthy individuals. Further investigations are needed to identify potential environmental factors affecting these variants.