Genome-wide and epigenome-wide association studies have identified genetic variants and differentially methylated nucleotides associated with childhood asthma. Incorporation of such genomic data may improve performance of childhood asthma prediction models which use phenotypic and environmental data. Using genome-wide genotype and methylation data at birth from the Isle of Wight Birth Cohort (n = 1456), a polygenic risk score (PRS), and newborn (nMRS) and childhood (cMRS) methylation risk scores, were developed to predict childhood asthma diagnosis. Each risk score was integrated with two previously published childhood asthma prediction models (CAPE and CAPP) and were validated in the Manchester Asthma and Allergy Study. Individually, the genomic risk scores demonstrated modest-to-moderate discriminative performance (area under the receiver operating characteristic curve, AUC: PRS = 0.64, nMRS = 0.55, cMRS = 0.54), and their integration only marginally improved the performance of the CAPE (AUC: 0.75 vs. 0.71) and CAPP models (AUC: 0.84 vs. 0.82). The limited predictive performance of each genomic risk score individually and their inability to substantially improve upon the performance of the CAPE and CAPP models suggests that genetic and epigenetic predictors of the broad phenotype of asthma are unlikely to have clinical utility. Hence, further studies predicting specific asthma endotypes are warranted.
Keywords: asthma; childhood; data integration; machine learning; methylation risk score; polygenic risk score; prediction.