On the genetics of sleep disorders: genome-wide association studies and beyond
Michael J Parsons
Mammalian Genetics Unit, MRC Harwell, Harwell, Oxfordshire, UK
Abstract: Sleep is an essential behavior, yet much of its underlying functions are still unknown. The disruption of sleep can led to a variety of health consequences. Family and twin studies have together shown that genetic factors underlie variation in sleep characteristics and sleep disorders. Given the importance of sleep to our well-being, understanding its underlying genetic factors is essential to both the prevention and treatment of these disorders. Recently, genome-wide association studies (GWAS) have helped to provide evidence of associations of both known and novel genetic variants with sleep disorders. This review outlines the findings from GWAS for a number of sleep disorders, including insomnia, restless leg syndrome, obstructive sleep apnea, and narcolepsy, and discusses these findings in the context of supporting evidence from independent methodologies. Finally, the limitations of GWAS approaches are outlined, along with the future directions of the genetics of sleep in the post-GWAS era.
Keywords: genome-wide association studies, sleep, sleep disorder, insomnia, restless leg syndrome, obstructive sleep apnea, narcolepsy
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