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Keywords:

  • power;
  • non-parametric linkage analysis;
  • longevity

Abstract

This report investigates the power issue in applying the non-parametric linkage analysis of affected sib-pairs (ASP) [Kruglyak and Lander, 1995: Am J Hum Genet 57:439–454] to localize genes that contribute to human longevity using long-lived sib-pairs. Data were simulated by introducing a recently developed statistical model for measuring marker-longevity associations [Yashin et al., 1999: Am J Hum Genet 65:1178–1193], enabling direct power comparison between linkage and association approaches. The non-parametric linkage (NPL) scores estimated in the region harboring the causal allele are evaluated to assess the statistical power for different genetic (allele frequency and risk) and heterogeneity parameters under various sampling schemes (age-cut and sample size). Based on the genotype-specific survival function, we derived a heritability calculation as an overall measurement for the effect of causal genes with different parameter settings so that the power can be compared for different modes (dominant, recessive) of inheritance. Our results show that the ASP approach is a powerful tool in mapping very strong effect genes, both dominant and recessive. To map a rare dominant genetic variation that reduces hazard of death by half, a large sample (above 600 pairs) with at least one extremely long-lived (over age 99) sib in each pair is needed. Again, with large sample size and high age cut-off, the method is able to localize recessive genes with relatively small effects, but the power is very limited in case of a dominant effect. Although the power issue may depend heavily on the true genetic nature in maintaining survival, our study suggests that results from small-scale sib-pair investigations should be referred with caution, given the complexity of human longevity. © 2004 Wiley-Liss, Inc.