A Family and a Genome-Wide Polygenic Risk Score Are Independently Associated With Stroke in a Population-Based Study

Stroke. 2022 Jul;53(7):2331-2339. doi: 10.1161/STROKEAHA.121.036551. Epub 2022 Apr 7.


Background: Positive family history and genetic risk scores have been shown to independently capture those individuals with high risk for stroke. The aim of our study was to evaluate the amount of shared information between family history and genetic risk and to investigate their combined effect on the association with prevalent and incident stroke cases.

Methods: We obtained a family risk score (FamRS), weighted for disease onset and family size as well as genome-wide polygenic risk score (PGS) including over 3.2 million single-nucleotide polymorphisms in the population-based prospective KORA F3 (Cooperative Health Research in the Region of Augsburg) study (n=3071) from Southern Germany. FamRS and PGS were evaluated separately and combined. The measures were once treated as continuous variables but also divided in the highest 20%, 10%, 5%, and 1% percentiles. Odds ratios via logistic regression and hazard ratios via Cox regression were estimated. A stroke event was defined as a hospitalization for stroke that was self-reported in a standardized interview by certified and supervised personnel.

Results: The FamRS outperformed other simplified family measures such as affected parents or number of affected family members. FamRS and PGS were not correlated, and no individuals were observed with both very high FamRS and very high PGS (top 1% percentile). In a combined model, both FamRS and PGS were independently from each other associated with risk of stroke, also independent of other traditional risk factors (p [FamRS]=0.02, p [PGS]=0.005). Individuals in the top 1% of either FamRS or PGS were found to have >5-fold risk for stroke (odds ratios, 5.82 [95% CI, 2.08-14]; P=0.0002). The results for incident stroke events showed the same trend but were not significant.

Conclusions: Our study shows that a family risk score and PGS capture different information concerning individual stroke risk. Combining the risk measures FamRS and PGS increases predictive power, as demonstrated in a population-based study.

Keywords: cause of death; prevalence; risk factors; sibling; single-nucleotide polymorphism.

MeSH terms

  • Genome-Wide Association Study
  • Humans
  • Multifactorial Inheritance*
  • Polymorphism, Single Nucleotide / genetics
  • Prospective Studies
  • Risk Factors
  • Stroke* / epidemiology
  • Stroke* / genetics