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Senior Vice-President for Research and Innovation, Professor of Theoretical Physics, Michigan State University

Saturday, August 17, 2019

Polygenic Architecture and Risk Prediction for 14 Cancers and Schizophrenia

Two recent papers on polygenic risk prediction. As I've emphasized before, these predictors already have real clinical utility but they will get significantly better with more training data.
Assessment of Polygenic Architecture and Risk Prediction based on Common Variants Across Fourteen Cancers

Yan Zhang et al.

We analyzed summary-level data from genome-wide association studies (GWAS) of European ancestry across fourteen cancer sites to estimate the number of common susceptibility variants (polygenicity) contributing to risk, as well as the distribution of their associated effect sizes. All cancers evaluated showed polygenicity, involving at a minimum thousands of independent susceptibility variants. For some malignancies, particularly chronic lymphoid leukemia (CLL) and testicular cancer, there are a larger proportion of variants with larger effect sizes than those for other cancers. In contrast, most variants for lung and breast cancers have very small associated effect sizes. For different cancer sites, we estimate a wide range of GWAS sample sizes, required to explain 80% of GWAS heritability, varying from 60,000 cases for CLL to over 1,000,000 cases for lung cancer. The maximum relative risk achievable for subjects at the 99th risk percentile of underlying polygenic risk scores, compared to average risk, ranges from 12 for testicular to 2.5 for ovarian cancer. We show that polygenic risk scores have substantial potential for risk stratification for relatively common cancers such as breast, prostate and colon, but limited potential for other cancer sites because of modest heritability and lower disease incidence.



Some people are surprised that a mental disorder might be strongly controlled by genetics -- why? However, it has been known for some time that schizophrenia is highly heritable. I anticipate that good predictors for Autism and Alzheimer's disease will be available soon.
Penetrance and Pleiotropy of Polygenic Risk Scores for Schizophrenia in 106,160 Patients Across Four Health Care Systems

Amanda B. Zheutlin et al.

Objective:
Individuals at high risk for schizophrenia may benefit from early intervention, but few validated risk predictors are available. Genetic profiling is one approach to risk stratification that has been extensively validated in research cohorts. The authors sought to test the utility of this approach in clinical settings and to evaluate the broader health consequences of high genetic risk for schizophrenia.

Methods:
The authors used electronic health records for 106,160 patients from four health care systems to evaluate the penetrance and pleiotropy of genetic risk for schizophrenia. Polygenic risk scores (PRSs) for schizophrenia were calculated from summary statistics and tested for association with 1,359 disease categories, including schizophrenia and psychosis, in phenome-wide association studies. Effects were combined through meta-analysis across sites.

Results:
PRSs were robustly associated with schizophrenia (odds ratio per standard deviation increase in PRS, 1.55; 95% CI=1.4, 1.7), and patients in the highest risk decile of the PRS distribution had up to 4.6-fold higher odds of schizophrenia compared with those in the bottom decile (95% CI=2.9, 7.3). PRSs were also positively associated with other phenotypes, including anxiety, mood, substance use, neurological, and personality disorders, as well as suicidal behavior, memory loss, and urinary syndromes; they were inversely related to obesity.

Conclusions:
The study demonstrates that an available measure of genetic risk for schizophrenia is robustly associated with schizophrenia in health care settings and has pleiotropic effects on related psychiatric disorders as well as other medical syndromes. The results provide an initial indication of the opportunities and limitations that may arise with the future application of PRS testing in health care systems.

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