The Association of Genotype-Based Inbreeding Coefficient with a Range of Physical and Psychological Human Traits

K.J.H. Verweij, A. Abdellaoui, J. Veijola, S. Sebert, M. Koiranen, M.C. Keller, M.R. Järvelin, B.P. Zietsch

Research output: Contribution to JournalArticleAcademicpeer-review

Abstract

Across animal species, offspring of closely related mates exhibit lower fitness, a phenomenon called inbreeding depression. Inbreeding depression in humans is less well understood because mating between close relatives is generally rare and stigmatised, confounding investigation of its effect on fitness-relevant traits. Recently, the availability of high-density genotype data has enabled quantification of variation in distant inbreeding in 'outbred' human populations, but the low variance of inbreeding detected from genetic data in most outbred populations means large samples are required to test effects, and only a few traits have yet been studied. However, it is likely that isolated populations, or those with a small effective population size, have higher variation in inbreeding and therefore require smaller sample sizes to detect inbreeding effects. With a small effective population size and low immigration, Northern Finland is such a population. We make use of a sample of ∼5,500 'unrelated' individuals in the Northern Finnish Birth Cohort 1966 with known genotypes and measured phenotypes across a range of fitness-relevant physical and psychological traits, including birth length and adult height, body mass index (BMI), waist-to-hip ratio, blood pressure, heart rate, grip strength, educational attainment, income, marital status, handedness, health, and schizotypal features. We find significant associations in the predicted direction between individuals' inbreeding coefficient (measured by proportion of the genome in runs of homozygosity) and eight of the 18 traits investigated, significantly more than the one or two expected by chance. These results are consistent with inbreeding depression effects on a range of human traits, but further research is needed to replicate and test alternative explanations for these effects. © 2014 Verweij et al.
Original languageEnglish
Article numbere103102
Number of pages6
JournalPLoS ONE
Volume9
Issue number7
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 2014

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