Monday, April 07, 2008

Age & association studies?   posted by Razib @ 4/07/2008 10:10:00 AM

When it comes to association studies population substructure is something you have to keep in mind, but what about age? On the Replication of Genetic Associations: Timing Can Be Everything!:
The failure of researchers to replicate genetic-association findings is most commonly attributed to insufficient statistical power, population stratification, or various forms of between-study heterogeneity or environmental influences...Here, we illustrate another potential cause for nonreplications that has so far not received much attention in the literature. We illustrate that the strength of a genetic effect can vary by age, causing "age-varying associations." If not taken into account during the design and the analysis of a study, age-varying genetic associations can cause nonreplication. By using the 100K SNP scan of the Framingham Heart Study, we identified an age-varying association between a SNP in ROBO1 and obesity and hypothesized an age-gene interaction. This finding was followed up in eight independent samples comprising 13,584 individuals. The association was replicated in five of the eight studies, showing an age-dependent relationship...Furthermore, this study illustrates that it is difficult for cross-sectional study designs to detect age-varying associations. If the specifics of age- or time-varying genetic effects are not considered in the selection of both the follow-up samples and in the statistical analysis, important genetic associations may be missed.

More digestable summary at ScienceDaily.