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Hum Genomics. 2010 Jun;4(5):302-26.

Gene-environment interaction tests for family studies with quantitative phenotypes: A review and extension to longitudinal measures.

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  • 1Department of Environmental Health, Harvard School of Public Health, Boston, MA 02115, USA.


Longitudinal studies are an important tool for analysing traits that change over time, depending on individual characteristics and environmental exposures. Complex quantitative traits, such as lung function, may change over time and appear to depend on genetic and environmental factors, as well as on potential gene-environment interactions. There is a growing interest in modelling both marginal genetic effects and gene-environment interactions. In an admixed population, the use of traditional statistical models may fail to adjust for confounding by ethnicity, leading to bias in the genetic effect estimates. A variety of methods have been developed to account for the genetic substructure of human populations. Family-based designs provide an important resource for avoiding confounding due to admixture. To date, however, most genetic analyses have been applied to cross-sectional designs. In this paper, we propose a methodology which aims to improve the assessment of main genetic effect and gene-environment interaction effects by combining the advantages of both longitudinal studies for continuous phenotypes, and the family-based designs. This approach is based on an extension of ordinary linear mixed models for quantitative phenotypes, which incorporates information from a case-parent design. Our results indicate that use of this method allows both main genetic and gene-environment interaction effects to be estimated without bias, even in the presence of population substructure.

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