From genotypes to genes: doubling the sample size

Biometrics. 1997 Dec;53(4):1253-61.


This paper considers the analysis of genetic case-control data. One approach considers the allele frequency in cases and controls. Because each individual has two alleles at any autosomal locus, there will be twice as many alleles as people. Another approach considers the risk of the disease in those who do not have the allele of interest (A), those who have a single copy (heterozygous), and those who are homozygous for A. A third approach does not differentiate between individuals with one or two copies of A. This was common when alleles were determined serologically and one could not distinguish between homozygotes and those with one copy of A and one of an unknown allele. All three approaches have been used in the literature, but this is the first systematic comparison of them. The different interpretations of the odds ratios from such analyses are explored and conditions are given under which the first two approaches are asymptotically equivalent. The chi-squared statistics from the three approaches are discussed. Both the odds ratio and the chi-squared statistic from the analysis that treats alleles rather than genotypes as individual entities are appropriate only when the Hardy-Weinberg equilibrium holds. When the equilibrium holds, the allele-based test statistic is asymptotically equivalent to the test for trend using the genotype data. Thus, analyses that treat alleles rather than people as observations should not be used. Instead, we recommend that such data should be analyzed by genotype.

MeSH terms

  • Alleles
  • Carcinoma, Squamous Cell / genetics
  • Carcinoma, Squamous Cell / immunology
  • Case-Control Studies*
  • Chi-Square Distribution
  • Female
  • Genetic Diseases, Inborn / epidemiology
  • Genetic Diseases, Inborn / genetics*
  • Genotype*
  • HLA-DQ Antigens / genetics
  • HLA-DQ beta-Chains
  • Heterozygote
  • Homozygote
  • Humans
  • Models, Genetic
  • Odds Ratio
  • Sample Size*
  • Uterine Cervical Neoplasms / genetics
  • Uterine Cervical Neoplasms / immunology


  • HLA-DQ Antigens
  • HLA-DQ beta-Chains
  • HLA-DQ3 antigen
  • HLA-DQB1 antigen