An Adaptive Fisher's Combination Method for Joint Analysis of Multiple Phenotypes in Association Studies

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© 2016 The Author(s). Currently, the analyses of most genome-wide association studies (GWAS) have been performed on a single phenotype. There is increasing evidence showing that pleiotropy is a widespread phenomenon in complex diseases. Therefore, using only one single phenotype may lose statistical power to identify the underlying genetic mechanism. There is an increasing need to develop and apply powerful statistical tests to detect association between multiple phenotypes and a genetic variant. In this paper, we develop an Adaptive Fisher's Combination (AFC) method for joint analysis of multiple phenotypes in association studies. The AFC method combines p-values obtained in standard univariate GWAS by using the optimal number of p-values which is determined by the data. We perform extensive simulations to evaluate the performance of the AFC method and compare the power of our method with the powers of TATES, Tippett's method, Fisher's combination test, MANOVA, MultiPhen, and SUMSCORE. Our simulation studies show that the proposed method has correct type I error rates and is either the most powerful test or comparable with the most powerful test. Finally, we illustrate our proposed methodology by analyzing whole-genome genotyping data from a lung function study.

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Scientific Reports