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Exploring regional aspects of 3D facial variation within European individuals

NCJ Number
Scientific Reports Volume: 13 Dated: 2023 Pages: 3708
Franziska Wilke; Noah Herrick; Harold Matthews; Hanne Hoskens; Sylvia Singh; John R. Shaffer; Seth M. Weinberg; Mark D. Shriver; Peter Claes; Susan Walsh
Date Published
13 pages

This article presents research into shared facial ancestry features within European populations.


Facial ancestry can be described as variation that exists in facial features that are shared amongst members of a population due to environmental and genetic effects. Even within Europe, faces vary among subregions and may lead to confounding in genetic association studies if unaccounted for. Genetic studies use genetic principal components (PCs) to describe facial ancestry to circumvent this issue. Yet the phenotypic effect of these genetic PCs on the face has yet to be described, and phenotype-based alternatives compared. In anthropological studies, consensus faces are utilized as they depict a phenotypic, not genetic, ancestry effect. In this study, the authors explored the effects of regional differences on facial ancestry in 744 Europeans using genetic and anthropological approaches. Both showed similar ancestry effects between subgroups, localized mainly to the forehead, nose, and chin. Consensus faces explained the variation seen in only the first three genetic PCs, differing more in magnitude than shape change. Here the authors show only minor differences between the two methods and discuss a combined approach as a possible alternative for facial scan correction that is less cohort dependent, more replicable, non-linear, and can be made open access for use across research groups, enhancing future studies in this field. (Published Abstract Provided)