Research abstract:


The current practice of using only a few strongly associated genetic markers in regression models results in generally low power in prediction or accounting for heritability of complex human traits.


We illustrate here a Bayesian joint estimation of single nucleotide polymorphism (SNP) effects principle to improve prediction of phenotype status from pathway-focused sets of SNPs. Chronic fatigue syndrome (CFS), a complex disease of unknown etiology with no laboratory methods for diagnosis, was chosen to demonstrate the power of this Bayesian method. For CFS, such a genetic predictive model in combination with clinical evidence might lead to an earlier diagnosis than one based solely on clinical findings.


One of our goals is to model disease status using Bayesian statistics which perform variable selection and parameter estimation simultaneously and which can induce the sparseness and smoothness of the SNP effects. Smoothness of the SNP effects is obtained by explicit modeling of the covariance structure of the SNP effects.


The Bayesian model achieved perfect goodness of fit when tested within the sampled data. Tenfold cross-validation resulted in 80 % accuracy, one of the best so far for CFS in comparison to previous prediction models. Model reduction aspects were investigated in a computationally feasible manner. Additionally, genetic variation estimates provided by the model identified specific genetic markers for their biological role in the disease pathophysiology.


This proof-of-principle study provides a powerful approach combining Bayesian methods, SNPs representing multiple pathways and rigorous case ascertainment for accurate genetic risk prediction modeling of complex diseases like CFS and other chronic diseases.

Prediction of complex human diseases from pathway-focused candidate markers by joint estimation of marker effects: case of chronic fatigue syndrome, by Madhuchhanda Bhattacharjee, Mangalathu S. Rajeevan and Mikko J. Sillanpaa in Human Genomics 2015, 9:8  Published: 11 June 2015

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