Mendelian randomization analysis using mixture models for robust and efficient estimation of causal effects

Guanghao Qi, Nilanjan Chatterjee

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Abstract

Mendelian randomization (MR) has emerged as a major tool for the investigation of causal relationship among traits, utilizing results from large-scale genome-wide association studies. Bias due to horizontal pleiotropy, however, remains a major concern. We propose a novel approach for robust and efficient MR analysis using large number of genetic instruments, based on a novel spike-detection algorithm under a normal-mixture model for underlying effect-size distributions. Simulations show that the new method, MRMix, provides nearly unbiased or/and less biased estimates of causal effects compared to alternative methods and can achieve higher efficiency than comparably robust estimators. Application of MRMix to publicly available datasets leads to notable observations, including identification of causal effects of BMI and age-at-menarche on the risk of breast cancer; no causal effect of HDL and triglycerides on the risk of coronary artery disease; a strong detrimental effect of BMI on the risk of major depressive disorder.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number1941
JournalNature communications
Volume10
Issue number1
DOIs
StatePublished - Dec 1 2019

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Chemistry(all)
  • Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology(all)
  • Physics and Astronomy(all)

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