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Nat Rev Genet. 2009 Dec;10(12):872-8. doi: 10.1038/nrg2670. Epub 2009 Oct 27.

Common disorders are quantitative traits.

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Social, Genetic and Developmental Psychiatry Centre, Institute of Psychiatry, King's College London, London SE5 8AF, UK.


After drifting apart for 100 years, the two worlds of genetics - quantitative genetics and molecular genetics - are finally coming together in genome-wide association (GWA) research, which shows that the heritability of complex traits and common disorders is due to multiple genes of small effect size. We highlight a polygenic framework, supported by recent GWA research, in which qualitative disorders can be interpreted simply as being the extremes of quantitative dimensions. Research that focuses on quantitative traits - including the low and high ends of normal distributions - could have far-reaching implications for the diagnosis, treatment and prevention of the problematic extremes of these traits.

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