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MR-Base: a platform for systematic causal inference across the phenome using billions of genetic associations

By Gibran Hemani, Jie Zheng, Kaitlin H Wade, Charles Laurin, Benjamin L Elsworth, Stephen Burgess, Jack Bowden, Ryan Langdon, Vanessa Tan, James Yarmolinsky, Hashem A. Shihab, Nicholas Timpson, David M. Evans, Caroline Relton, Richard M Martin, George Davey Smith, Tom R Gaunt, Philip C Haycock

Posted 16 Dec 2016
bioRxiv DOI: 10.1101/078972

Published genetic associations can be used to infer causal relationships between phenotypes, bypassing the need for individual-level genotype or phenotype data. We have curated complete summary data from 1094 genome-wide association studies (GWAS) on diseases and other complex traits into a centralised database, and developed an analytical platform that uses these data to perform Mendelian randomization (MR) tests and sensitivity analyses (MR-Base, http://www.mrbase.org). Combined with curated data of published GWAS hits for phenomic measures, the MR-Base platform enables millions of potential causal relationships to be evaluated. We use the platform to predict the impact of lipid lowering on human health. While our analysis provides evidence that reducing LDL-cholesterol, lipoprotein(a) or triglyceride levels reduce coronary disease risk, it also suggests causal effects on a number of other non-vascular outcomes, indicating potential for adverse-effects or drug repositioning of lipid-lowering therapies.

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