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Am J Hum Genet. 2006 Feb;78(2):350-6. Epub 2005 Dec 22.

Robust genomic control for association studies.

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  • 1Office of Biostatistics Research, Division of Epidemiology and Clinical Applications, National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute, Bethesda, MD 20892, USA.


Population-based case-control studies are a useful method to test for a genetic association between a trait and a marker. However, the analysis of the resulting data can be affected by population stratification or cryptic relatedness, which may inflate the variance of the usual statistics, resulting in a higher-than-nominal rate of false-positive results. One approach to preserving the nominal type I error is to apply genomic control, which adjusts the variance of the Cochran-Armitage trend test by calculating the statistic on data from null loci. This enables one to estimate any additional variance in the null distribution of statistics. When the underlying genetic model (e.g., recessive, additive, or dominant) is known, genomic control can be applied to the corresponding optimal trend tests. In practice, however, the mode of inheritance is unknown. The genotype-based chi (2) test for a general association between the trait and the marker does not depend on the underlying genetic model. Since this general association test has 2 degrees of freedom (df), the existing formulas for estimating the variance factor by use of genomic control are not directly applicable. By expressing the general association test in terms of two Cochran-Armitage trend tests, one can apply genomic control to each of the two trend tests separately, thereby adjusting the chi (2) statistic. The properties of this robust genomic control test with 2 df are examined by simulation. This genomic control-adjusted 2-df test has control of type I error and achieves reasonable power, relative to the optimal tests for each model.

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