Investigation of multi-trait associations using pathway-based analysis of GWAS summary statistics

BMC Genomics
Guangsheng PeiPeilin Jia


Genome-wide association studies (GWAS) have been successful in identifying disease-associated genetic variants. Recently, an increasing number of GWAS summary statistics have been made available to the research community, providing extensive repositories for studies of human complex diseases. In particular, cross-trait associations at the genetic level can be beneficial from large-scale GWAS summary statistics by using genetic variants that are associated with multiple traits. However, direct assessment of cross-trait associations using susceptibility loci has been challenging due to the complex genetic architectures in most diseases, calling for advantageous methods that could integrate functional interpretation and imply biological mechanisms. We developed an analytical framework for systematic integration of cross-trait associations. It incorporates two different approaches to detect enriched pathways and requires only summary statistics. We demonstrated the framework using 25 traits belonging to four phenotype groups. Our results revealed an average of 54 significantly associated pathways (ranged between 18 and 175) per trait. We further proved that pathway-based analysis provided increased power to estimate cross-trait ass...Continue Reading


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