Design and analysis of genetic association studies to finely map a locus identified by linkage analysis: Sample size and power calculations

Robert L. Hanson, H. C. Looker, L. Ma, Y. L. Muller, L. J. Baier, W. C. Knowler

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

19 Scopus citations


Association (e.g. case-control) studies are often used to finely map loci identified by linkage analysis. We investigated the influence of various parameters on power and sample size requirements for such a study. Calculations were performed for various values of a high-risk functional allele (fA), frequency of a marker allele associated with the high risk allele (f1), degree of linkage disquilibrium between functional and marker alleles (D') and trait heritability attributable to the functional locus (h2). The calculations show that if cases and controls are selected from equal but opposite extreme quantiles of a quantitative trait, the primary determinants of power are h2 and the specific quantiles selected. For a dichotomous trait, power also depends on population prevalence. Power is optimal if functional alleles are studied (fA = f1 and D' = 1.0) and can decrease substantially as D' diverges from 1.0 or as f1 diverges from fA. These analyses suggest that association studies to finely map loci are most powerful if potential functional polymorphisms are identified a priori or if markers are typed to maximize haplotypic diversity. In the absence of such information, expected minimum power at a given location for a given sample size can be calculated by specifying a range of potential frequencies for fA (e.g. 0.1-0.9) and determining power for all markers within the region with specification of the expected D' between the markers and the functional locus. This method is illustrated for a fine-mapping project with 662 single nucleotide polymorphisms in 24 Mb. Regions differed by marker density and allele frequencies. Thus, in some, power was near its theoretical maximum and little additional information is expected from additional markers, while in others, additional markers appear to be necessary. These methods may be useful in the analysis and interpretation of fine-mapping studies.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)332-349
Number of pages18
JournalAnnals of Human Genetics
Issue number3
StatePublished - May 2006
Externally publishedYes


  • Case-control studies
  • Linkage disequilibrium
  • Odds ratio
  • Power
  • Sample size

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Genetics(clinical)
  • Genetics


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