Gene-Based Association Analysis for Censored Traits Via Fixed Effect Functional Regressions
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Genetic studies of survival outcomes have been proposed and conducted recently, but statistical methods for identifying genetic variants that affect disease progression are rarely developed. Motivated by our ongoing real studies, here we develop Cox proportional hazard models using functional regression (FR) to perform gene-based association analysis of survival traits while adjusting for covariates. The proposed Cox models are fixed effect models where the genetic effects of multiple genetic variants are assumed to be fixed. We introduce likelihood ratio test (LRT) statistics to test for associations between the survival traits and multiple genetic variants in a genetic region. Extensive simulation studies demonstrate that the proposed Cox RF LRT statistics have well-controlled type I error rates. To evaluate power, we compare the Cox FR LRT with the previously developed burden test (BT) in a Cox model and sequence kernel association test (SKAT), which is based on mixed effect Cox models. The Cox FR LRT statistics have higher power than or similar power as Cox SKAT LRT except when 50%/50% causal variants had negative/positive effects and all causal variants are rare. In addition, the Cox FR LRT statistics have higher power than Cox BT LRT. The models and related test statistics can be useful in the whole genome and whole exome association studies. An age-related macular degeneration dataset was analyzed as an example.
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