Individual admixture estimates: Disease associations and individual risk of diabetes and gallbladder disease among Mexican‐Americans in Starr County, Texas

Craig L. Hanis, Ranajit Chakraborty, Robert E. Ferrell, William J. Schull

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The ethnic and geographic distributions of several common chronic diseases show distinct patterns that are consistent with the distribution of genes and genetic admixture. For example, diabetes and gallbladder disease occur most frequently among Amerindians, while those genetically admixed with them (such as Mexican‐Americans) have intermediate rates, and lowest rates are found among Whites and Blacks. Because there will be heterogeneity from individual to individual in ancestral affinity within an admixed population, a method is developed for estimating each person's admixture probability. Results confirm that there is substantial heterogeneity of individual admixture among Mexican‐Americans in Starr County, Texas, with a mean value indicating that 65% of genes in this population are Caucasian derived and 35% Amerindian derived. The individual estimates are shown to be unrelated to the probability of being diabetic and only marginally related to gallbladder disease, with those having the most Amerindian affinity being at increased risk. These results are a consequence of the independent assortment of loci and indicate that unless the markers employed are related (including linkage) to the disease of interest, the method will have limited utility. Individual admixture estimates will be useful, however, for examining aspects of population structure and will find increased utility for predicting disease and examining disease associations as more and more of the genome is represented by markers, a very probable prospect with the abundance of DNA polymorphism being identified by restriction enzymes.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)433-441
Number of pages9
JournalAmerican Journal of Physical Anthropology
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - Aug 1986



  • Amerinds
  • Disease risk
  • Ethnicity
  • Gene Frequencies
  • Population structure

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