Using molecular genetic information to infer causality in observational data: Mendelian randomisation

Amy E. Taylor, Jennifer J. Ware, Suzanne H. Gage, George Davey Smith, Marcus R. Munafò*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle (Academic Journal)

1 Citation (Scopus)
326 Downloads (Pure)

Abstract

Determining whether associations between lifestyle behaviours and health outcomes are causal is difficult in observational data. However, as genetic variants associated with these behaviours are discovered, this will provide opportunities for testing causality using Mendelian randomisation methods. These use genetic variants as proxies for exposures to minimise biases associated with observational data, enabling stronger causal inference. Here we review the principles and main approaches for conducting Mendelian randomisation studies, and discuss recent methodological developments for investigating more complex causal pathways. Mendelian randomisation offers considerable promise for improving our understanding of the causal relationships between lifestyle behaviours and health outcomes, and its application will increase as more genetic variants robustly associated with behavioural phenotypes are identified.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)39-45
Number of pages7
JournalCurrent Opinion in Behavioral Sciences
Volume2
Early online date20 Aug 2014
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 1 Apr 2015

Structured keywords

  • Brain and Behaviour
  • Tobacco and Alcohol

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