The Rosetta Phenotype Harmonization Method Facilitates Finding a Relationship Quantitative Trait Locus for a Complex Cognitive Trait

Genes (Basel). 2023 Aug 31;14(9):1748. doi: 10.3390/genes14091748.


Genetics researchers increasingly combine data across many sources to increase power and to conduct analyses that cross multiple individual studies. However, there is often a lack of alignment on outcome measures when the same constructs are examined across studies. This inhibits comparison across individual studies and may impact the findings from meta-analysis. Using a well-characterized genotypic (brain-derived neurotrophic factor: BDNF) and phenotypic constructs (working memory and reading comprehension), we employ an approach called Rosetta, which allows for the simultaneous examination of primary studies that employ related but incompletely overlapping data. We examined four studies of BDNF, working memory, and reading comprehension with a combined sample size of 1711 participants. Although the correlation between working memory and reading comprehension over all participants was high, as expected (ρ = 0.45), the correlation between working memory and reading comprehension was attenuated in the BDNF Met/Met genotype group (ρ = 0.18, n.s.) but not in the Val/Val (ρ = 0.44) or Val/Met (ρ = 0.41) groups. These findings indicate that Met/Met carriers may be a unique and robustly defined subgroup in terms of memory and reading comprehension. This study demonstrates the utility of the Rosetta method when examining complex phenotypes across multiple studies, including psychiatric genetic studies, as shown here, and also for the mega-analysis of cohorts generally.

Keywords: brain-derived neurotrophic factor; data harmonization genetics; latent traits; missing data; reading comprehension; working memory.

Publication types

  • Meta-Analysis

MeSH terms

  • Brain-Derived Neurotrophic Factor* / genetics
  • Cognition
  • Humans
  • Magnetic Resonance Imaging
  • Phenotype
  • Quantitative Trait Loci*


  • Brain-Derived Neurotrophic Factor