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Annu Rev Genomics Hum Genet. 2013;14:441-65. doi: 10.1146/annurev-genom-091212-153520. Epub 2013 May 24.

The power of meta-analysis in genome-wide association studies.

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Clinical and Molecular Epidemiology Unit, Department of Hygiene and Epidemiology, University of Ioannina School of Medicine, Ioannina 45110, Greece; email:


Meta-analysis of multiple genome-wide association (GWA) studies has become common practice over the past few years. The main advantage of this technique is the maximization of power to detect subtle genetic effects for common traits. Moreover, one can use meta-analysis to probe and identify heterogeneity in the effect sizes across the combined studies. In this review, we systematically appraise and evaluate the characteristics of GWA meta-analyses with 10,000 or more subjects published up to June 2012. We provide an overview of the current landscape of variants discovered by GWA meta-analyses, and we discuss and assess with extrapolations from empirical data the value of larger meta-analyses for the discovery of additional genetic associations and new biology in the future. Finally, we discuss some emerging logistical and practical issues related to the conduct of meta-analysis of GWA studies.

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