Optimal strategies for learning multi-ancestry polygenic scores vary across traits.
Lehmann B., Mackintosh M., McVean G., Holmes C.
Polygenic scores (PGSs) are individual-level measures that aggregate the genome-wide genetic predisposition to a given trait. As PGS have predominantly been developed using European-ancestry samples, trait prediction using such European ancestry-derived PGS is less accurate in non-European ancestry individuals. Although there has been recent progress in combining multiple PGS trained on distinct populations, the problem of how to maximize performance given a multiple-ancestry cohort is largely unexplored. Here, we investigate the effect of sample size and ancestry composition on PGS performance for fifteen traits in UK Biobank. For some traits, PGS estimated using a relatively small African-ancestry training set outperformed, on an African-ancestry test set, PGS estimated using a much larger European-ancestry only training set. We observe similar, but not identical, results when considering other minority-ancestry groups within UK Biobank. Our results emphasise the importance of targeted data collection from underrepresented groups in order to address existing disparities in PGS performance.