Score test for age at onset genetic linkage analysis in selected sibling pairs



A new score statistic is derived, which uses information from registries (age-specific incidences) and family studies (sib–sib marginal correlation) to weight affected sibling pairs according to their age at onset. Age at onset of sibling pairs is modelled by a gamma frailty model. From this model we derive a bivariate survival function, which depends on the marginal survival and on the marginal correlation. The score statistic for linkage is a classical nonparametric linkage (NPL) statistic where the identical by descent sharing is weighted by a particular function of the age at onset data. Since the statistic is based on survival models, it can also be applied to discordant and healthy sibling pairs. Simulation studies show that the proposed method is robust and more powerful than standard NPL methods. As illustration we apply the new score statistic to data from a breast cancer study. Copyright © 2009 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.