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Assessing Likelihood of Having False Positives Caused by Population Stratification

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DOI: 10.4236/ojgen.2019.91002    188 Downloads   364 Views


Population stratification is always a concern in association analysis. There is a debate on the extent of the problem in less extreme situations (Thomas and Witte [1], Wacholder et al. [2]). Wacholder et al. [3] and Ardlie et al. [4] showed that hidden population structure is not a serious threat to case-control designs. We propose a method of assessing the seriousness of the population stratification before designing association studies. If population stratification is not a serious problem, one may consider using case-control study instead of family-based design to get more power. In a case-control design, we compare chi-square statistics from a structured population (a union of two subpopulations) and a homogeneous population with the same prevalence and allele frequencies. We provide an explicit formula to calculate the chi-square statistics from 17 parameters, such as proportions of subpopulation, allele frequencies in subpopulations, etc. We choose these factors because they have potential to cause false associations. Each parameter takes a random value in a chosen range. We then calculate the likelihood of getting opposite conclusions in the structured and the homogeneous populations. This is the likelihood of having false positives caused by population stratification. The advantage of this method is to provide a cost effective way to choose between using case-control data and using family data before actually collecting those data. We conclude that sample sizes have a significant effect on the likelihood of false positive caused by population stratification. The larger the sample size is, the more likely to have false positive if the population structure is ignored. If the sample size will be smaller than 200 by budget constraints, then case-control study may be a better choice because of its power.

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Jiang, R. and Dong, J. (2019) Assessing Likelihood of Having False Positives Caused by Population Stratification. Open Journal of Genetics, 9, 15-29. doi: 10.4236/ojgen.2019.91002.

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