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Elife. 2019 Mar 5;8. pii: e43657. doi: 10.7554/eLife.43657.

An atlas of polygenic risk score associations to highlight putative causal relationships across the human phenome.

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MRC Integrative Epidemiology Unit (IEU), Population Health Sciences, Bristol Medical School, University of Bristol, Bristol, United Kingdom.


The age of large-scale genome-wide association studies (GWAS) has provided us with an unprecedented opportunity to evaluate the genetic liability of complex disease using polygenic risk scores (PRS). In this study, we have analysed 162 PRS (p<5×10-05) derived from GWAS and 551 heritable traits from the UK Biobank study (N = 334,398). Findings can be investigated using a web application (http:‌//‌mrcieu.‌‌PRS‌_atlas/), which we envisage will help uncover both known and novel mechanisms which contribute towards disease susceptibility. To demonstrate this, we have investigated the results from a phenome-wide evaluation of schizophrenia genetic liability. Amongst findings were inverse associations with measures of cognitive function which extensive follow-up analyses using Mendelian randomization (MR) provided evidence of a causal relationship. We have also investigated the effect of multiple risk factors on disease using mediation and multivariable MR frameworks. Our atlas provides a resource for future endeavours seeking to unravel the causal determinants of complex disease.


Mendelian randomization; causal inference; genetic liability; genetics; genomics; human; phenome-wide association study; polygenic risk scores

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