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Horm Res Paediatr. 2011;76 Suppl 3:10-1. doi: 10.1159/000330139. Epub 2011 Sep 7.

Genetics of human stature: Lessons from genome-wide association studies.

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Public Health Genomics, National Institute for Health and Welfare, University of Helsinki and FIMM, Helsinki, Finland.


Over the past 2 to 3 years, linkage disequilibrium mapping methods, or genome-wide association studies (GWAS), have made a seminal turn in the molecular genetic studies of complex human traits such as height, i.e., stature. Human stature is a highly heritable trait across populations and the phenotype for stature is easily measured and related to many other traits; therefore, it is available in most studies evaluating any phenotype. For this reason, it has become a beacon for large consortium genetic studies, during both the pre-GWAS and GWAS eras. Tens of thousands of genome-scanned individuals have been analysed together against their genome. Several loci have been implicated in association with stature (54 of these have been published), and most chromosomes have a locus linked to the trait in family studies. However, the prediction power of loci indentified by molecular genetic methods still remains inferior to clinical assessment of offspring stature using midparental height as a guide. Although the genomic methods provide important insights into heritability of stature, it will be a major challenge for molecular genetic studies to provide information that surpasses that of midparental height.

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