Genetic risk models: Influence of model size on risk estimates and precision

Ying Shan, Gerard Tromp, Helena Kuivaniemi, Diane T. Smelser, Shefali S. Verma, Marylyn D. Ritchie, James R. Elmore, David J. Carey, Yvette P. Conley, Michael B. Gorin, Daniel E. Weeks

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

2 Scopus citations


Disease risk estimation plays an important role in disease prevention. Many studies have found that the ability to predict risk improves as the number of risk single-nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) in the risk model increases. However, the width of the confidence interval of the risk estimate is often not considered in the evaluation of the risk model. Here, we explore how the risk and the confidence interval width change as more SNPs are added to the model in the order of decreasing effect size, using both simulated data and real data from studies of abdominal aortic aneurysms and age-related macular degeneration. Our results show that confidence interval width is positively correlated with model size and the majority of the bigger models have wider confidence interval widths than smaller models. Once the model size is bigger than a certain level, the risk does not shift markedly, as 100% of the risk estimates of the one-SNP-bigger models lie inside the confidence interval of the one-SNP-smaller models. We also created a confidence interval-augmented reclassification table. It shows that both more effective SNPs with larger odds ratios and less effective SNPs with smaller odds ratios contribute to the correct decision of whom to screen. The best screening strategy is selected and evaluated by the net benefit quantity and the reclassification rate. We suggest that individuals whose upper bound of their risk confidence interval is above the screening threshold, which corresponds to the population prevalence of the disease, should be screened.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)282-296
Number of pages15
JournalGenetic Epidemiology
Issue number4
StatePublished - May 2017

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Epidemiology
  • Genetics(clinical)


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