Multivariate Meta-Analysis of Genetic Association Studies: A Simulation Study
- Additional Document Info
- View All
In a meta-analysis with multiple end points of interests that are correlated between or within studies, multivariate approach to meta-analysis has a potential to produce more precise estimates of effects by exploiting the correlation structure between end points. However, under random-effects assumption the multivariate estimation is more complex (as it involves estimation of more parameters simultaneously) than univariate estimation, and sometimes can produce unrealistic parameter estimates. Usefulness of multivariate approach to meta-analysis of the effects of a genetic variant on two or more correlated traits is not well understood in the area of genetic association studies. In such studies, genetic variants are expected to roughly maintain Hardy-Weinberg equilibrium within studies, and also their effects on complex traits are generally very small to modest and could be heterogeneous across studies for genuine reasons. We carried out extensive simulation to explore the comparative performance of multivariate approach with most commonly used univariate inverse-variance weighted approach under random-effects assumption in various realistic meta-analytic scenarios of genetic association studies of correlated end points. We evaluated the performance with respect to relative mean bias percentage, and root mean square error (RMSE) of the estimate and coverage probability of corresponding 95% confidence interval of the effect for each end point. Our simulation results suggest that multivariate approach performs similarly or better than univariate method when correlations between end points within or between studies are at least moderate and between-study variation is similar or larger than average within-study variation for meta-analyses of 10 or more genetic studies. Multivariate approach produces estimates with smaller bias and RMSE especially for the end point that has randomly or informatively missing summary data in some individual studies, when the missing data in the endpoint are imputed with null effects and quite large variance.
has subject area