Cookies on this website

We use cookies to ensure that we give you the best experience on our website. If you click 'Accept all cookies' we'll assume that you are happy to receive all cookies and you won't see this message again. If you click 'Reject all non-essential cookies' only necessary cookies providing core functionality such as security, network management, and accessibility will be enabled. Click 'Find out more' for information on how to change your cookie settings.

MOTIVATION:Common small-effect genetic variants that contribute to human complex traits and disease are typically identified using traditional fixed-effect (FE) meta-analysis methods. However, the power to detect genetic associations under FE models deteriorates with increasing heterogeneity, so that some small-effect heterogeneous loci might go undetected. A modified random-effects meta-analysis approach (RE2) was previously developed that is more powerful than traditional fixed and random-effects methods at detecting small-effect heterogeneous genetic associations, the method was updated (RE2C) to identify small-effect heterogeneous variants overlooked by traditional fixed-effect meta-analysis. Here, we re-appraise a large-scale meta-analysis of coronary disease with RE2C to search for small-effect genetic signals potentially masked by heterogeneity in a FE meta-analysis. RESULTS:Our application of RE2C suggests a high sensitivity but low specificity of this approach for discovering small-effect heterogeneous genetic associations. We recommend that reports of small-effect heterogeneous loci discovered with RE2C are accompanied by forest plots and standardized predicted random-effects statistics to reveal the distribution of genetic effect estimates across component studies of meta-analyses, highlighting overly influential outlier studies with the potential to inflate genetic signals. AVAILABILITY AND IMPLEMENTATION:Scripts to calculate standardized predicted random-effects statistics and generate forest plots are available in the getspres R package entitled from SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION:Supplementary data are available at Bioinformatics online.

Original publication




Journal article


Bioinformatics (Oxford, England)

Publication Date





552 - 557


Wellcome Centre for Human Genetics.


Humans, Multifactorial Inheritance, Research Design, Coronary Artery Disease, Genome-Wide Association Study