Detecting marker-disease association by testing for Hardy-Weinberg disequilibrium at a marker locus

Am J Hum Genet. 1998 Nov;63(5):1531-40. doi: 10.1086/302114.


We review and extend a recent suggestion that fine-scale localization of a disease-susceptibility locus for a complex disease be done on the basis of deviations from Hardy-Weinberg equilibrium among affected individuals. This deviation is driven by linkage disequilibrium between disease and marker loci in the whole population and requires a heterogeneous genetic basis for the disease. A finding of marker-locus Hardy-Weinberg disequilibrium therefore implies disease heterogeneity and marker-disease linkage disequilibrium. Although a lack of departure of Hardy-Weinberg disequilibrium at marker loci implies that disease susceptibilityweighted linkage disequilibria are zero, given disease heterogeneity, it does not follow that the usual measures of linkage disequilibrium are zero. For disease-susceptibility loci with more than two alleles, therefore, care is needed in the drawing of inferences from marker Hardy-Weinberg disequilibria.

Publication types

  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Alleles
  • Genes, Recessive
  • Genetic Diseases, Inborn / genetics*
  • Genetic Markers*
  • Genetic Predisposition to Disease
  • Heterozygote
  • Humans
  • Linkage Disequilibrium*
  • Models, Genetic*
  • Models, Statistical*


  • Genetic Markers