Changing Polygenic Penetrance on Phenotypes in the 20(th) Century Among Adults in the US Population

Sci Rep. 2016 Jul 26:6:30348. doi: 10.1038/srep30348.


This study evaluates changes in genetic penetrance-defined as the association between an additive polygenic score and its associated phenotype-across birth cohorts. Situating our analysis within recent historical trends in the U.S., we show that, while height and BMI show increasing genotypic penetrance over the course of 20(th) Century, education and heart disease show declining genotypic effects. Meanwhile, we find genotypic penetrance to be historically stable with respect to depression. Our findings help inform our understanding of how the genetic and environmental landscape of American society has changed over the past century, and have implications for research which models gene-environment (GxE) interactions, as well as polygenic score calculations in consortia studies that include multiple birth cohorts.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Gene-Environment Interaction*
  • Heart Diseases / genetics
  • Humans
  • Multifactorial Inheritance*
  • Penetrance*
  • Population / genetics*
  • United States