FVGWAS: Fast voxelwise genome wide association analysis of large-scale imaging genetic data

Neuroimage. 2015 Sep;118:613-27. doi: 10.1016/j.neuroimage.2015.05.043. Epub 2015 May 27.


More and more large-scale imaging genetic studies are being widely conducted to collect a rich set of imaging, genetic, and clinical data to detect putative genes for complexly inherited neuropsychiatric and neurodegenerative disorders. Several major big-data challenges arise from testing genome-wide (NC>12 million known variants) associations with signals at millions of locations (NV~10(6)) in the brain from thousands of subjects (n~10(3)). The aim of this paper is to develop a Fast Voxelwise Genome Wide Association analysiS (FVGWAS) framework to efficiently carry out whole-genome analyses of whole-brain data. FVGWAS consists of three components including a heteroscedastic linear model, a global sure independence screening (GSIS) procedure, and a detection procedure based on wild bootstrap methods. Specifically, for standard linear association, the computational complexity is O (nNVNC) for voxelwise genome wide association analysis (VGWAS) method compared with O ((NC+NV)n(2)) for FVGWAS. Simulation studies show that FVGWAS is an efficient method of searching sparse signals in an extremely large search space, while controlling for the family-wise error rate. Finally, we have successfully applied FVGWAS to a large-scale imaging genetic data analysis of ADNI data with 708 subjects, 193,275voxels in RAVENS maps, and 501,584 SNPs, and the total processing time was 203,645s for a single CPU. Our FVGWAS may be a valuable statistical toolbox for large-scale imaging genetic analysis as the field is rapidly advancing with ultra-high-resolution imaging and whole-genome sequencing.

Keywords: Computational complexity; Family-wise error rate; Heteroscedastic linear model; Voxelwise genome wide association; Wild bootstrap.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Algorithms*
  • Brain / physiology*
  • Genetic Predisposition to Disease
  • Genome-Wide Association Study / methods*
  • Genotype
  • Humans
  • Software*