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A guide to performing Polygenic Risk Score analyses

By Shing Wan Choi, Timothy Shin Heng Mak, Paul F O'Reilly

Posted 14 Sep 2018
bioRxiv DOI: 10.1101/416545 (published DOI: 10.1038/s41596-020-0353-1)

The application of polygenic risk scores (PRS) has become routine in genetic epidemiological studies. Among a range of applications, PRS are commonly used to assess shared aetiology among different phenotypes and to evaluate the predictive power of genetic data, while they are also now being exploited as part of study design, in which experiments are performed on individuals, or their biological samples (eg. tissues, cells), at the tails of the PRS distribution and contrasted. As GWAS sample sizes increase and PRS become more powerful, they are also set to play a key role in personalised medicine. Despite their growing application and importance, there are limited guidelines for performing PRS analyses, which can lead to inconsistency between studies and misinterpretation of results. Here we provide detailed guidelines for performing polygenic risk score analyses relevant to different methods for their calculation, outlining standard quality control steps and offering recommendations for best-practice. We also discuss different methods for the calculation of PRS, common misconceptions regarding the interpretation of results and future challenges.

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