The ratio of the lengths of an individual's second to fourth digit (2D:4D) is commonly used as a noninvasive retrospective biomarker for prenatal androgen exposure. In order to identify the genetic determinants of 2D:4D, we applied a genome-wide association approach to 1507 11-year-old children from the Avon Longitudinal Study of Parents and Children (ALSPAC) in whom 2D:4D ratio had been measured, as well as a sample of 1382 12- to 16-year-olds from the Brisbane Adolescent Twin Study. A meta-analysis of the two scans identified a single variant in the LIN28B gene that was strongly associated with 2D:4D (rs314277: p = 4.1 108) and was subsequently independently replicated in an additional 3659 children from the ALSPAC cohort (p = 1.53 106). The minor allele of the rs314277 variant has previously been linked to increased height and delayed age at menarche, but in our study it was associated with increased 2D:4D in the direction opposite to that of previous reports on the correlation between 2D:4D and age at menarche. Our findings call into question the validity of 2D:4D as a simplistic retrospective biomarker for prenatal testosterone exposure
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