Enriched power of disease-concordant twin-case-only design in detecting interactions in genome-wide association studies

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Genetic interaction is a crucial issue in the understanding of functional pathways underlying complex diseases. However, detecting such interaction effects is challenging in terms of both methodology and statistical power. We address this issue by introducing a disease-concordant twin-case-only design, which applies to both monozygotic and dizygotic twins. To investigate the power, we conducted a computer simulation study by setting a series of parameter schemes with different minor allele frequencies and relative risks. Results from the simulation study reveals that the disease-concordant twin-case-only design largely reduces sample size required for sufficient power compared to the ordinary case-only design for detecting gene–gene interaction using unrelated individuals. Sample sizes for dizygotic and monozygotic twins were roughly 1/2 and 1/4 of sample sizes in the ordinary case-only design. Since dizygotic twins are genetically similar as siblings, the enriched power for dizygotic twins also applies to affected siblings, which could help to largely extend the application of the powerful twin-case-only design. In summary, our simulation reveals high value of disease-concordant twins and siblings in efficiently detecting gene-by-gene interactions.

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This study was jointly supported by the Lundbeck Foundation (grant number R170-2014-1353) and the DFF research project 1 from the Danish Council for Independent Research, Medical Sciences (DFF-FSS): DFF-6110-00114 and DFF-6110-00016.

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Correspondence to Qihua Tan.

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Li, W., Baumbach, J., Mohammadnejad, A. et al. Enriched power of disease-concordant twin-case-only design in detecting interactions in genome-wide association studies. Eur J Hum Genet 27, 631–636 (2019) doi:10.1038/s41431-018-0320-2

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