Karger Publishers, Human Heredity, 4(57), p. 207-219
Parametric linkage analysis is usually used to find chromosomal regions linked to a disease (phenotype) that is described with a specific genetic model. This is done by investigating the relations between the disease and genetic markers, that is, well-characterized loci of known position with a clear Mendelian mode of inheritance. Assume we have found an interesting region on a chromosome that we suspect is linked to the disease. Then we want to test the hypothesis of no linkage versus the alternative one of linkage. As a measure we use the maximal lod score Z(max). It is well known that the maximal lod score has asymptotically a (2 ln 10)(-1) x (1/2 chi2(0) + 1/2 chi2(1)) distribution under the null hypothesis of no linkage when only one point (one marker) on the chromosome is studied. In this paper, we show, both by simulations and theoretical arguments, that the null hypothesis distribution of Zmax has no simple form when more than one marker is used (multipoint analysis). In fact, the distribution of Zmax depends on the number of families, their structure, the assumed genetic model, marker denseness, and marker informativity. This means that a constant critical limit of Zmax leads to tests associated with different significance levels. Because of the above-mentioned problems, from the statistical point of view the maximal lod score should be supplemented by a p-value when results are reported.