Longitudinal analysis is more powerful than cross-sectional analysis in detecting genetic association with neuroimaging phenotypes

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Most existing genome-wide association analyses are cross-sectional, utilizing only phenotypic data at a single time point, e.g. baseline. On the other hand, longitudinal studies, such as Alzheimer's Disease Neuroimaging Initiative (ADNI), collect phenotypic information at multiple time points. In this article, as a case study, we conducted both longitudinal and crosssectional analyses of the ADNI data with several brain imaging (not clinical diagnosis) phenotypes, demonstrating the power gains of longitudinal analysis over cross-sectional analysis. Specifically, we scanned genome-wide single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) with 56 brain-wide imaging phenotypes processed by FreeSurfer on 638 subjects. At the genomewide significance level (P<1:8×10-9) or a less stringent level (e.g. P<10 -7), longitudinal analysis of the phenotypic data from the baseline to month 48 identified more SNP-phenotype associations than cross-sectional analysis of only the baseline data. In particular, at the genome-wide significance level, both SNP rs429358 in gene APOE and SNP rs2075650 in gene TOMM40 were confirmed to be associated with various imaging phenotypes in multiple regions of interests (ROIs) by both analyses, though longitudinal analysis detected more regional phenotypes associated with the two SNPs and indicated another significant SNP rs439401 in gene APOE. In light of the power advantage of longitudinal analysis, we advocate its use in current and future longitudinal neuroimaging studies.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article numbere102312
JournalPloS one
Issue number8
StatePublished - Aug 6 2014


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