Indirect assortative mating for human disease and longevity

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Abstract / Description of output

Phenotypic correlations amongst partners for traits like longevity or late-onset disease have been found to be comparable to phenotypic correlations in first degree relatives. How these correlations arise in late life is poorly understood. Here, we introduce a novel paradigm to establish the presence of indirect assortment on factors correlated across generations, by examining correlations between parents of couples, i.e., in-laws. Using correlations in additive genetic values we further corroborate the presence of indirect assortment on heritable factors. Specifically, using couples from the UK Biobank cohort, we show thatlongevity and disease history of the parents of white British couples are correlated, with correlations of up to 0.09. The correlations in parental longevity are replicated in the FamiLinx cohort, a larger and geographically more diverse historical ancestry dataset spanning a broader time frame. These correlations in parental longevity significantly (pval < 0.0093 for all pairs of parents) exceed what would be expected due to variations in lifespan based on year and location of birth. For cardiovascular diseases, in particular hypertension, we find significant correlations (r=0.028, pval=0.005) in genetic values among partners,supporting a model where partners assort for risk factors to some extent genetically correlated with cardiovascular disease. Partitioning the relative importance of indirect assortative mating and shared common environment will require large, well characterised longitudinal cohorts aimed at understanding phenotypic correlations among none blood relatives. Identifying the factors that mediate indirect assortment on longevity and human disease risk will help to unravel factors affecting human disease and ultimately longevity.
Original languageEnglish
Early online date5 Feb 2019
Publication statusPublished - 1 Aug 2019


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