Case-control association testing with related individuals: a more powerful quasi-likelihood score test

Am J Hum Genet. 2007 Aug;81(2):321-37. doi: 10.1086/519497. Epub 2007 Jul 10.


We consider the problem of genomewide association testing of a binary trait when some sampled individuals are related, with known relationships. This commonly arises when families sampled for a linkage study are included in an association study. Furthermore, power to detect association with complex traits can be increased when affected individuals with affected relatives are sampled, because they are more likely to carry disease alleles than are randomly sampled affected individuals. With related individuals, correlations among relatives must be taken into account, to ensure validity of the test, and consideration of these correlations can also improve power. We provide new insight into the use of pedigree-based weights to improve power, and we propose a novel test, the MQLS test, which, as we demonstrate, represents an overall, and in many cases, substantial, improvement in power over previous tests, while retaining a computational simplicity that makes it useful in genomewide association studies in arbitrary pedigrees. Other features of the MQLS are as follows: (1) it is applicable to completely general combinations of family and case-control designs, (2) it can incorporate both unaffected controls and controls of unknown phenotype into the same analysis, and (3) it can incorporate phenotype data about relatives with missing genotype data. The methods are applied to data from the Genetic Analysis Workshop 14 Collaborative Study of the Genetics of Alcoholism, where the MQLS detects genomewide significant association (after Bonferroni correction) with an alcoholism-related phenotype for four different single-nucleotide polymorphisms: tsc1177811 (P=5.9x10(-7)), tsc1750530 (P=4.0x10(-7)), tsc0046696 (P=4.7x10(-7)), and tsc0057290 (P=5.2x10(-7)) on chromosomes 1, 16, 18, and 18, respectively. Three of these four significant associations were not detected in previous studies analyzing these data.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Case-Control Studies
  • Gene Frequency*
  • Humans
  • Likelihood Functions*
  • Linkage Disequilibrium*
  • Models, Genetic*
  • Pedigree
  • Penetrance
  • Statistics as Topic

Associated data

  • OMIM/CYP2C18