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Genet Epidemiol. 2012 Apr;36(3):235-43. doi: 10.1002/gepi.21616. Epub 2012 Mar 28.

Power comparison of admixture mapping and direct association analysis in genome-wide association studies.

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  • 1Department of Epidemiology and Biostatistics, Case Western Reserve University School of Medicine, Cleveland, Ohio, USA.


When dense markers are available, one can interrogate almost every common variant across the genome via imputation and single nucleotide polymorphism (SNP) test, which has become a routine in current genome-wide association studies (GWASs). As a complement, admixture mapping exploits the long-range linkage disequilibrium (LD) generated by admixture between genetically distinct ancestral populations. It is then questionable whether admixture mapping analysis is still necessary in detecting the disease associated variants in admixed populations. We argue that admixture mapping is able to reduce the burden of massive comparisons in GWASs; it therefore can be a powerful tool to locate the disease variants with substantial allele frequency differences between ancestral populations. In this report we studied a two-stage approach, where candidate regions are defined by conducting admixture mapping at stage 1, and single SNP association tests are followed at stage 2 within the candidate regions defined at stage 1. We first established the genome-wide significance levels corresponding to the criteria to define the candidate regions at stage 1 by simulations. We next compared the power of the two-stage approach with direct association analysis. Our simulations suggest that the two-stage approach can be more powerful than the standard genome-wide association analysis when the allele frequency difference of a causal variant in ancestral populations, is larger than 0.4. Our conclusion is consistent with a theoretical prediction by Risch and Tang ([2006] Am J Hum Genet 79:S254). Surprisingly, our study also suggests that power can be improved when we use less strict criteria to define the candidate regions at stage 1.

© 2012 Wiley Periodicals, Inc.

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