Modelling the genetic risk in age-related macular degeneration

Felix Grassmann, Lars G. Fritsche, Claudia N. Keilhauer, Iris M. Heid, Bernhard H.F. Weber

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

73 Citations (Scopus)


Late-stage age-related macular degeneration (AMD) is a common sight-threatening disease of the central retina affecting approximately 1 in 30 Caucasians. Besides age and smoking, genetic variants from several gene loci have reproducibly been associated with this condition and likely explain a large proportion of disease. Here, we developed a genetic risk score (GRS) for AMD based on 13 risk variants from eight gene loci. The model exhibited good discriminative accuracy, area-under-curve (AUC) of the receiver-operating characteristic of 0.820, which was confirmed in a cross-validation approach. Noteworthy, younger AMD patients aged below 75 had a significantly higher mean GRS (1.87, 95% CI: 1.69-2.05) than patients aged 75 and above (1.45, 95% CI: 1.36-1.54). Based on five equally sized GRS intervals, we present a risk classification with a relative AMD risk of 64.0 (95% CI: 14.11-1131.96) for individuals in the highest category (GRS 3.44-5.18, 0.5% of the general population) compared to subjects with the most common genetic background (GRS -0.05-1.70, 40.2% of general population). The highest GRS category identifies AMD patients with a sensitivity of 7.9% and a specificity of 99.9% when compared to the four lower categories. Modeling a general population around 85 years of age, 87.4% of individuals in the highest GRS category would be expected to develop AMD by that age. In contrast, only 2.2% of individuals in the two lowest GRS categories which represent almost 50% of the general population are expected to manifest AMD. Our findings underscore the large proportion of AMD cases explained by genetics particularly for younger AMD patients. The five-category risk classification could be useful for therapeutic stratification or for diagnostic testing purposes once preventive treatment is available.

Original languageEnglish
Article numbere37979
Number of pages10
JournalPloS ONE
Issue number5
Early online date30 May 2012
Publication statusPublished - 30 May 2012

Bibliographical note

We thank Teresa Leist and Kerstin Meier for excellent technical support in
genotyping the samples


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