Washington [US], Nov 20 (ANI): Estimates of genetic correlation often assume that mating is random. However, partners tend to associate in the real world due to various mutual interests and social systems.
According to a recent UCLA-led study, many estimates of the strength with which qualities and diseases share genetic signals may be overstated because existing approaches to analyzing the genetic links between attributes do not take into account patterns of genetics. ‘coupling.
In recent years, scientists have worked to unravel the genetic links between traits and disease risk using advanced genome sequencing technologies, believing that findings in common genetics could suggest answers for disease treatment. . However, UCLA researchers cautioned against placing too much faith in genetic connection estimates in their recent study published in Science. They claim that these estimates are more influenced by non-biological elements than previously thought.
Genetic correlation estimates generally assume that mating is random. But in the real world, partners tend to associate due to many shared interests and social structures. Accordingly, some genetic correlations in previous work that have been attributed to shared biology may instead represent incorrect statistical assumptions. For example, previous estimates of the genetic overlap between body mass index (BMI) and education level are likely to reflect this type of population structure, induced by “trait-matched mating”, or the way whose individuals of one trait tend to associate with individuals of another trait.
The study authors said the genetic correlation estimates deserve closer scrutiny because these estimates have been used to predict disease risk, glean clues for potential therapies, inform diagnostic practices and shape arguments. on human behavior and societal issues. The authors said some members of the scientific community have overemphasized genetic correlation estimates based on the idea that studying genes, because they are unalterable, can overcome confounders.
“If you just look at two traits that are high in a group of people, you can’t conclude that they’re there for the same reason,” said lead author Richard Border, postdoctoral researcher in statistical genetics at UCLA. . “But there’s been kind of an assumption that if you can trace that back to the genes, then you’ve got the causal story.” Based on their analysis of two large databases of marital traits, the researchers found that assorted mating between traits is strongly associated with genetic correlation estimates and plausibly accounts for a “substantial” part of correlation estimates. genetic.
“Matching cross-traits has affected all of our genomes and has caused some interesting correlations between the DNA you inherit from your mother and the DNA you inherit from your father across the entire genome,” said the study co-author Noah Zaitlen, professor of computational medicine and neurology at UCLA Health.
The researchers also looked at genetic correlation estimates of psychiatric disorders, which have sparked debate in the psychiatric community because they appear to show genetic relationships between disorders that apparently have little similarity, such as deficit hyperactivity disorder. attention and schizophrenia. The researchers found that genetic correlations for a number of unrelated traits could be plausibly attributed to cross-trait matched mating and flawed diagnostic practices. On the other hand, their analysis found stronger links for certain pairs of traits, such as anxiety disorders and major depression, suggesting that there really is at least one shared biology.
“But even when there’s a real signal out there, we’re still suggesting we’re overestimating the extent of that sharing,” Border said. (ANI)
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