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Assessing the contribution of genetic nurture to refractive error

Guggenheim, Jeremy A. ORCID:, Clark, Rosie, Zayats, Tetyana, Williams, Cathy and UK Biobank Eye and Vision Consortium 2022. Assessing the contribution of genetic nurture to refractive error. European Journal of Human Genetics 30 , pp. 1226-1232. 10.1038/s41431-022-01126-6

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Parents pass on both their genes and environment to offspring, prompting debate about the relative importance of nature versus nurture in the inheritance of complex traits. Advances in molecular genetics now make it possible to quantify an individual’s genetic predisposition to a trait via his or her ‘polygenic score’. However, part of the risk captured by an individual’s polygenic score may actually be attributed to the genotype of their parents. In the most well-studied example of this indirect ‘genetic nurture’ effect, about half the genetic contribution to educational attainment was found to be attributed to parental alleles, even if those alleles were not inherited by the child. Refractive errors, such as myopia, are a common cause of visual impairment and pose high economic and quality-of-life costs. Despite strong evidence that refractive errors are highly heritable, the extent to which genetic risk is conferred directly via transmitted risk alleles or indirectly via the environment that parents create for their children is entirely unknown. Here, an instrumental variable analysis in 1944 pairs of adult siblings from the United Kingdom was used to quantify the proportion of the genetic risk (‘single nucleotide polymorphism (SNP) heritability’) of refractive error contributed by genetic nurture. We found no evidence of a contribution from genetic nurture: non-within-family SNP-heritability estimate = 0.213 (95% confidence interval 0.134–0.310) and within-family SNP-heritability estimate = 0.250 (0.152–0.372). Our findings imply the genetic contribution to refractive error is principally an intrinsic effect from alleles transmitted from parents to offspring.

Item Type: Article
Date Type: Publication
Status: Published
Schools: Advanced Research Computing @ Cardiff (ARCCA)
Optometry and Vision Sciences
Publisher: Springer Nature
ISSN: 1018-4813
Funders: Cardiff University; Welsh Government and Fight for Sight (24WG201)
Date of First Compliant Deposit: 27 May 2022
Date of Acceptance: 16 May 2022
Last Modified: 16 Jul 2024 09:35

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