To describe the association between axial length (AL) and height and to estimate the extent to which shared genetic or environmental factors influence this covariance.
Study participants were recruited from the Guangzhou Twin Registry. Axial length was measured using partial coherence laser interferometry. Height was measured with the participants standing without shoes. We computed twin pairwise correlations and cross-twin cross-trait correlations between AL and height for monozygotic and dizygotic twins and performed model-fitting analyses using a multivariate Cholesky model. The right eye was arbitrarily selected to represent AL of participants.
Five hundred sixty-five twin pairs (359 monozygotic and 206 dizygotic) aged 7 to 15 years were available for analysis. Phenotypic correlation between AL and height was 0.46 but decreased to 0.19 after adjusting for age, sex, and age × sex interaction. Bivariate Cholesky model–fitting analyses revealed that 89% of phenotypic correlation was due to shared genetic factors and 11% was due to shared random environmental factors, which includes measurement error.
Covariance of AL and height is largely attributable to shared genes. Given that AL is a key determinant of myopia, further work is needed to confirm gene sharing between myopia and stature.