A dimension reduction approach for modeling multi-locus interaction in case-control studies

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Studying one locus or one single nucleotide polymorphism (SNP) at a time may not be sufficient to understand complex diseases because they are unlikely to result from the effect of only one SNP. Each SNP alone may have little or no effect on the risk of the disease, but together they may increase the risk substantially. Analyses focusing on individual SNPs ignore the possibility of interaction among SNPs. In this paper, we propose a parsimonious model to assess the joint effect of a group of SNPs in a case-control study. The model implements a data reduction strategy within a likelihood framework and uses a test to assess the statistical significance of the effect of the group of SNPs on the binary trait. The primary advantage of the proposed approach is that the dimension reduction technique produces a test statistic with degrees of freedom significantly lower than a multiple logistic regression with only main effects of the SNPs, and our parsimonious model can incorporate the possibility of interaction among the SNPs. Moreover, the proposed approach estimates the direction of association of each SNP with the disease and provides an estimate of the average effect of the group of SNPs positively and negatively associated with the disease in the given SNP set. We illustrate the proposed model on simulated and real data, and compare its performance with a few other existing approaches. Our proposed approach appeared to outperform the other approaches for independent SNPs in our simulation studies.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)234-245
Number of pages12
JournalHuman heredity
Issue number4
StatePublished - Sep 2011


  • Case-control study
  • Dimension reduction
  • Gene-gene interaction


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