Selected Article


Genetic Analyses of Longitudinal Phenotype Data: A Comparison of Univariate Methods and a Multivariate Approach


BACKGROUND. We explored three approaches to heritability and linkage analyses of longitudinal total cholesterol levels (CHOL) in the Genetic Analysis Workshop 13 simulated data without knowing the answers. The first two were univariate approaches and used 1) baseline measure at exam one or 2) summary measures such as mean and slope from multiple exams. The third method was a multivariate approach that directly models multiple measurements on a subject. A variance components model (SOLAR) was employed in the univariate approaches. A mixed regression model with polynomials was employed in the multivariate approach and implemented in SAS/IML. RESULTS. Using the baseline measure at exam 1, we detected all baseline or slope genes contributing a substantial amount (0.08) of variance (LOD > 3). Compared to the baseline measure, the mean measures yielded slightly higher LOD at the slope genes, and a lower LOD at the baseline genes. The slope measure produced a somewhat lower LOD for the slope gene than did the mean measure. Descriptive information on the pattern of changes in gene effects with age was estimated for three linked loci by the third approach. CONCLUSION. We found simple univariate methods may be effective to detect genes affecting longitudinal phenotypes but may not fully reveal temporal trends in gene effects. The relative efficiency of the univariate methods to detect genes depends heavily on the underlying model. Compared with the univariate approaches, the multivariate approach provided more information on temporal trends in gene effects at the cost of more complicated modelling and more intense computations.

National Institutes of Health (P50-HL55001)