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Genetic predictors of participation in optional components of UK Biobank

By Jessica Tyrrell, Jie Zheng, Robin Beaumont, Kathryn Hinton, Tom G Richardson, Andrew R. Wood, George Davey Smith, Timothy M Frayling, Kate Tilling

Posted 10 Feb 2020
bioRxiv DOI: 10.1101/2020.02.10.941328

Large studies (e.g. UK Biobank) are increasingly used for GWAS and Mendelian randomization (MR) studies. Selection into and dropout from studies may bias genetic and phenotypic associations. We examine genetic factors affecting participation in four optional components in up to 451,306 UK Biobank participants. We used GWAS to identify genetic variants associated with participation, MR to estimate effects of phenotypes on participation, and genetic correlations to compare participation bias across different studies. 32 variants were associated with participation in one of the optional components (P<6x10-9), including loci with known links to intelligence and Alzheimers disease. Genetic correlations demonstrated that participation bias was common across studies. MR showed that longer educational duration, older menarche and taller stature increased participation, whilst higher levels of adiposity, dyslipidaemia, neuroticism, Alzheimers and schizophrenia reduced participation. Our effect estimates can be used for sensitivity analysis to account for selective participation biases in genetic or non-genetic analyses.

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