Overlapping-sample Mendelian randomisation with multiple exposures: A Bayesian approach

by   Linyi Zou, et al.

Background: Mendelian randomization (MR) has been widely applied to causal inference in medical research. It uses genetic variants as instrumental variables (IVs) to investigate putative causal relationship between an exposure and an outcome. Traditional MR methods have dominantly focussed on a two-sample setting in which IV-exposure association study and IV-outcome association study are independent. However, it is not uncommon that participants from the two studies fully overlap (one-sample) or partly overlap (overlapping-sample). Methods: We proposed a method that is applicable to all the three sample settings. In essence, we converted a two- or overlapping- sample problem to a one-sample problem where data of some or all of the individuals were incomplete. Assume that all individuals were drawn from the same population and unmeasured data were missing at random. Then the unobserved data were treated au pair with the model parameters as unknown quantities, and thus, could be imputed iteratively conditioning on the observed data and estimated parameters using Markov chain Monte Carlo. We generalised our model to allow for pleiotropy and multiple exposures and assessed its performance by a number of simulations using four metrics: mean, standard deviation, coverage and power. Results: Higher sample overlapping rate and stronger instruments led to estimates with higher precision and power. Pleiotropy had a notably negative impact on the estimates. Nevertheless, overall the coverages were high and our model performed well in all the sample settings. Conclusions: Our model offers the flexibility of being applicable to any of the sample settings, which is an important addition to the MR literature which has restricted to one- or two- sample scenarios. Given the nature of Bayesian inference, it can be easily extended to more complex MR analysis in medical research.


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