Addressing the challenges of polygenic scores in human genetic research

Am J Hum Genet. 2022 Dec 1;109(12):2095-2100. doi: 10.1016/j.ajhg.2022.10.012.


The genotyping of millions of human samples has made it possible to evaluate variants across the human genome for their possible association with risks for numerous diseases and other traits by using genome-wide association studies (GWASs). The associations between phenotype and genotype found in GWASs make possible the construction of polygenic scores (PGSs), which aim to predict a trait or disease outcome in an individual on the basis of their genotype (in the disease case, the term polygenic risk score [PRS] is often used). PGSs have shown promise for studying the biology of complex traits and as a tool for evaluating individual disease risks in clinical settings. Although the quantity and quality of data to compute PGSs are increasing, challenges remain in the technical aspects of developing PGSs and in the ethical and social issues that might arise from their use. This ASHG Guidance emphasizes three major themes for researchers working with or interested in the application of PGSs in their own research: (1) developing diverse research cohorts; (2) fostering robustness in the development, application, and interpretation of PGSs; and (3) improving the communication of PGS results and their implications to broad audiences.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Genetic Research
  • Genome-Wide Association Study*
  • Genotype
  • Humans
  • Multifactorial Inheritance* / genetics
  • Phenotype