[Multifactorial diseases: a nightmare for the geneticist].Med Sci (Paris) 2005; 21(11):927-33MS
Common diseases are often familial, but they do not show in most families, a simple pattern of inheritance. In a few families these diseases may be caused by a mutation in a single gene. In most families these diseases are multifactorial, they result from a complex interaction between a genetic component which is often polygenic and many environmental factors. Two major, model free, methods are used to locate and identify susceptibility genes that predispose to multifactorial diseases. The first is a non parametric linkage analysis that relies on affected sib pairs, or an affected pedigree member, the second method is association studies which looks for increase frequency of particular alleles or genotypes in affected compared with unaffected individuals in the population. Most of the results have not been replicated, identifying susceptibility genes is proving much more difficult than most geneticists imagined 20 years ago. The main reason for this irreproducibility is genetic heterogeneity.