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Heredity (Edinb). 2019 Feb 5. doi: 10.1038/s41437-019-0185-3. [Epub ahead of print]

Indirect assortative mating for human disease and longevity.

Author information

1
The Roslin Institute, Royal (Dick) School of Veterinary Studies, The University of Edinburgh, Easter Bush Campus, Midlothian, Edinburgh, EH25 9RG, Scotland.
2
MRC HGU at the MRC IGMM, Western General Hospital, University of Edinburgh, Crewe Road South, Edinburgh, EH4 2XU, UK.
3
The Roslin Institute, Royal (Dick) School of Veterinary Studies, The University of Edinburgh, Easter Bush Campus, Midlothian, Edinburgh, EH25 9RG, Scotland. Albert.Tenesa@ed.ac.uk.
4
MRC HGU at the MRC IGMM, Western General Hospital, University of Edinburgh, Crewe Road South, Edinburgh, EH4 2XU, UK. Albert.Tenesa@ed.ac.uk.

Abstract

Phenotypic correlations among partners for traits such as longevity or late-onset disease have been found to be comparable to phenotypic correlations in first-degree relatives. How these correlations arise in late life is poorly understood. Here we introduce a novel paradigm to establish the presence of indirect assortment on factors correlated across generations, by examining correlations between parents of couples, i.e., in-laws. Using correlations in additive genetic values we further corroborate the presence of indirect assortment on heritable factors. Specifically, using couples from the UK Biobank cohort, we show that longevity and disease history of the parents of White British couples are correlated, with correlations of up to 0.09. The correlations in parental longevity are replicated in the FamiLinx cohort, a larger and geographically more diverse historical ancestry dataset spanning a broader time frame. These correlations in parental longevity significantly (pval < 0.0093 for all pairs of parents) exceed what would be expected due to variations in lifespan based on year and location of birth. For cardiovascular diseases, in particular hypertension, we find significant correlations (r = 0.028, pval = 0.005) in genetic values among partners, supporting a model where partners assort for risk factors to some extent genetically correlated with cardiovascular disease. Partitioning the relative importance of indirect assortative mating and shared common environment will require large, well-characterized longitudinal cohorts aimed at understanding phenotypic correlations among none-blood relatives. Identifying the factors that mediate indirect assortment on longevity and human disease risk will help to unravel factors affecting human disease and ultimately longevity.

PMID:
30723306
DOI:
10.1038/s41437-019-0185-3

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