Genomic Ancestry, Self-Rated Health and Its Association with Mortality in an Admixed Population: 10 Year Follow-Up of the Bambui-Epigen (Brazil) Cohort Study of Ageing

PLoS One. 2015 Dec 17;10(12):e0144456. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0144456. eCollection 2015.


Background: Self-rated health (SRH) has strong predictive value for mortality in different contexts and cultures, but there is inconsistent evidence on ethnoracial disparities in SRH in Latin America, possibly due to the complexity surrounding ethnoracial self-classification.

Materials/methods: We used 370,539 Single Nucleotide Polymorphisms (SNPs) to examine the association between individual genomic proportions of African, European and Native American ancestry, and ethnoracial self-classification, with baseline and 10-year SRH trajectories in 1,311 community dwelling older Brazilians. We also examined whether genomic ancestry and ethnoracial self-classification affect the predictive value of SRH for subsequent mortality.

Results: European ancestry predominated among participants, followed by African and Native American (median = 84.0%, 9.6% and 5.3%, respectively); the prevalence of Non-White (Mixed and Black) was 39.8%. Persons at higher levels of African and Native American genomic ancestry, and those self-identified as Non-White, were more likely to report poor health than other groups, even after controlling for socioeconomic conditions and an array of self-reported and objective physical health measures. Increased risks for mortality associated with worse SRH trajectories were strong and remarkably similar (hazard ratio ~3) across all genomic ancestry and ethno-racial groups.

Conclusions: Our results demonstrated for the first time that higher levels of African and Native American genomic ancestry--and the inverse for European ancestry--were strongly correlated with worse SRH in a Latin American admixed population. Both genomic ancestry and ethnoracial self-classification did not modify the strong association between baseline SRH or SRH trajectory, and subsequent mortality.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Aging / physiology*
  • Brazil / epidemiology
  • Cohort Studies
  • Follow-Up Studies
  • Genome, Human*
  • Health Status*
  • Humans
  • Self-Assessment*

Grant support

This work was supported by the Department of Science and Technology (DECIT, Ministry of Health) and National Fund for Scientific and Technological Development (FNDCT, Ministry of Science and Technology), Funding of Studies and Projects (FINEP, Ministry of Science and Technology, Brazil), Coordination of Improvement of Higher Education Personnel (CAPES, Ministry of Education, Brazil). MFLC, SVP, JOAF, FAP, CCC and ETS are fellow researchers of the National Council for Research and Technological Development (CNPq).