Limitations and risks of meta-analyses of longevity studies

Paola Sebastiani, Harold Bae, Anastasia Gurinovich, Mette Soerensen, Annibale Puca, Thomas T. Perls

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Searching for genetic determinants of human longevity has been challenged by the rarity of data sets with large numbers of individuals who have reached extreme old age, inconsistent definitions of the phenotype, and the difficulty of defining appropriate controls. Meta-analysis - a statistical method to summarize results from different studies - has become a common tool in genetic epidemiology to accrue large sample sizes for powerful genetic association studies. In conducting a meta-analysis of studies of human longevity however, particular attention must be made to the definition of cases and controls (including their health status) and on the effect of possible confounders such as sex and ethnicity upon the genetic effect to be estimated. We will show examples of how a meta-analysis can inflate the false negative rates of genetic association studies or it can bias estimates of the association between a genetic variant and extreme longevity.

Original languageEnglish
JournalMechanisms of Ageing and Development
Publication statusAccepted/In press - Oct 5 2016


  • Human longevity
  • Meta-analysis
  • Odds-ratios

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Ageing
  • Developmental Biology


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