Evaluating bias due to population stratification in case-control association studies of admixed populations

Genet Epidemiol. 2004 Jul;27(1):14-20. doi: 10.1002/gepi.20003.


The potential for bias from population stratification (PS) has raised concerns about case-control studies involving admixed ethnicities. We evaluated the potential bias due to PS in relating a binary outcome with a candidate gene under simulated settings where study populations consist of multiple ethnicities. Disease risks were assigned within the range of prostate cancer rates of African Americans reported in SEER registries assuming k=2, 5, or 10 admixed ethnicities. Genotype frequencies were considered in the range of 5-95%. Under a model assuming no genotype effect on disease (odds ratio (OR)=1), the range of observed OR estimates ignoring ethnicity was 0.64-1.55 for k=2, 0.72-1.33 for k=5, and 0.81-1.22 for k=10. When genotype effect on disease was modeled to be OR=2, the ranges of observed OR estimates were 1.28-3.09, 1.43-2.65, and 1.62-2.42 for k=2, 5, and 10 ethnicities, respectively. Our results indicate that the magnitude of bias is small unless extreme differences exist in genotype frequency. Bias due to PS decreases as the number of admixed ethnicities increases. The biases are bounded by the minimum and maximum of all pairwise baseline disease odds ratios across ethnicities. Therefore, bias due to PS alone may be small when baseline risk differences are small within major categories of admixed ethnicity, such as African Americans.

MeSH terms

  • African Americans / genetics
  • Bias*
  • Case-Control Studies*
  • Confounding Factors, Epidemiologic
  • Ethnic Groups / genetics*
  • Genetics, Population / statistics & numerical data*
  • Genotype*
  • Humans
  • Logistic Models
  • Male
  • Models, Genetic*
  • Molecular Epidemiology / methods*
  • Prostatic Neoplasms / genetics
  • SEER Program