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Genome-wide association meta-analysis of individuals of European ancestry identifies new loci explaining a substantial fraction of hair color variation and heritability

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Pirro Hysi, Ana M. Valdes, Fan Liu, Nicholas A Furlotte, David M. Evans, Veronique Bataille, Alessia Visconti, Gibran Hemani, George McMahon, Susan M. Ring, George Davey Smith, David L. Duffy, Gu Zhu, Scott D. Gordon, Sarah E. Medland, Bochao Danae Lin, Gonneke Willemsen, Jouke-Jan Hottenga, Dragana Vuckovic, Giorgia Girotto & 23 more Ilaria Gandin, Cinzia Sala, Marco Brumat, Paolo Gasparini, Toniolo Daniela, Massimiliano Cocca, Antonietta Robino, Seyhan Yazar, Alex W. Hewitt, Yan Chen, Changqing Zeng, Andre G. Uitterlinden, M. Arfan Ikram, Merel A Hamer, Cornelia M. van Duijn, Tamar E C Nijsten, David A. Mackey, Mario Falchi, Dorret I. Boomsma, Nicholas G. Martin, David A. Hinds, Manfred Kayser, Timothy D. Spector

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)652-656
JournalNature Genetics
Issue number5
Early online date16 Apr 2018
Publication statusPublished - May 2018


King's Authors


Hair color is one of the most recognizable visual traits in European populations and is under strong genetic control. Here we report the results of a genome-wide association study meta-analysis of almost 300,000 participants of European descent. We identified 123 autosomal and one X-chromosome loci significantly associated with hair color; all but 13 are novel. Collectively, SNPs associated with hair color within these loci explain 34.6% of red hair, 24.8% of blond hair and 26.1% of black hair heritability in the study populations. These results confirm the polygenic nature of complex phenotypes and improve our understanding of melanin pigment metabolism in humans.

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