The risk of posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) following trauma is heritable, but robust common variants have yet to be identified. In a multi-ethnic cohort including over 30,000 PTSD cases and 170,000 controls we conduct a genome-wide association study of PTSD. We demonstrate SNP-based heritability estimates of 5–20%, varying by sex. Three genome-wide significant loci are identified, 2 in European and 1 in African-ancestry analyses. Analyses stratified by sex implicate 3 additional loci in men. Along with other novel genes and non-coding RNAs, a Parkinson’s disease gene involved in dopamine regulation, PARK2, is associated with PTSD. Finally, we demonstrate that polygenic risk for PTSD is significantly predictive of re-experiencing symptoms in the Million Veteran Program dataset, although specific loci did not replicate. These results demonstrate the role of genetic variation in the biology of risk for PTSD and highlight the necessity of conducting sex-stratified analyses and expanding GWAS beyond European ancestry populations.
The Psychiatric Genomics Consortium-Posttraumatic Stress Disorder group (PGC-PTSD) combined genome-wide case–control molecular genetic data across 11 multiethnic studies to quantify PTSD heritability, to examine potential shared genetic risk with schizophrenia, bipolar disorder, and major depressive disorder and to identify risk loci for PTSD. Examining 20 730 individuals, we report a molecular genetics-based heritability estimate (h2SNP) for European-American females of 29% that is similar to h2SNP for schizophrenia and is substantially higher than h2SNP in European-American males (estimate not distinguishable from zero). We found strong evidence of overlapping genetic risk between PTSD and schizophrenia along with more modest evidence of overlap with bipolar and major depressive disorder. No single-nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) exceeded genome-wide significance in the transethnic (overall) meta-analysis and we do not replicate previously reported associations. Still, SNP-level summary statistics made available here afford the best-available molecular genetic index of PTSD—for both European- and African-American individuals—and can be used in polygenic risk prediction and genetic correlation studies of diverse phenotypes. Publication of summary statistics for ∼10 000 African Americans contributes to the broader goal of increased ancestral diversity in genomic data resources. In sum, the results demonstrate genetic influences on the development of PTSD, identify shared genetic risk between PTSD and other psychiatric disorders and highlight the importance of multiethnic/racial samples. As has been the case with schizophrenia and other complex genetic disorders, larger sample sizes are needed to identify specific risk loci.
BACKGROUND Many studies report smaller hippocampal and amygdala volumes in posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD), but findings have not always been consistent. Here, we present the results of a large-scale neuroimaging consortium study on PTSD conducted by the Psychiatric Genomics Consortium (PGC)–Enhancing Neuroimaging Genetics through Meta-Analysis (ENIGMA) PTSD Working Group. METHODS We analyzed neuroimaging and clinical data from 1868 subjects (794 PTSD patients) contributed by 16 cohorts, representing the largest neuroimaging study of PTSD to date. We assessed the volumes of eight subcortical structures (nucleus accumbens, amygdala, caudate, hippocampus, pallidum, putamen, thalamus, and lateral ventricle). We used a standardized image-analysis and quality-control pipeline established by the ENIGMA consortium. RESULTS In a meta-analysis of all samples, we found significantly smaller hippocampi in subjects with current PTSD compared with trauma-exposed control subjects (Cohen’s d = −0.17, p = .00054), and smaller amygdalae (d = −0.11, p = .025), although the amygdala finding did not survive a significance level that was Bonferroni corrected for multiple subcortical region comparisons (p < .0063). CONCLUSIONS Our study is not subject to the biases of meta-analyses of published data, and it represents an important milestone in an ongoing collaborative effort to examine the neurobiological underpinnings of PTSD and the brain’s response to trauma.
Children who fail to develop language normally-in the absence of explanatory factors such as neurological disorders, hearing impairment, or lack of adequate opportunity-are clinically described as having specific language impairment (SLI). SLI has a prevalence of approximately 7% in children entering school and is associated with later difficulties in learning to read. Research indicates that genetic factors are important in the etiology of SLI. Studies have consistently demonstrated that SLI aggregates in families. Increased monozygotic versus dizygotic twin concordance rates indicate that heredity, not just shared environment, is the cause of the familial clustering. We have collected five pedigrees of Celtic ancestry that segregate SLI, and we have conducted genomewide categorical linkage analysis, using model-based LOD score techniques. Analysis was conducted under both dominant and recessive models by use of three phenotypic classifications: clinical diagnosis, language impairment (spoken language quotient <85) and reading discrepancy (nonverbal IQ minus non-word reading >15). Chromosome 13 yielded a maximum multipoint LOD score of 3.92 under the recessive reading discrepancy model. Simulation to correct for multiple models and multiple phenotypes indicated that the genomewide empirical P value is <.01. As an alternative measure, we also computed the posterior probability of linkage (PPL), obtaining a PPL of 53% in the same region. One other genomic region yielded suggestive results on chromosome 2 (multipoint LOD score 2.86, genomic P value <.06 under the recessive language impairment model). Our findings underscore the utility of traditional LOD-score-based methods in finding genes for complex diseases, specifically, SLI.
This review summarizes the last decade of work by the ENIGMA (Enhancing NeuroImaging Genetics through Meta Analysis) Consortium, a global alliance of over 1400 scientists across 43 countries, studying the human brain in health and disease. Building on large-scale genetic studies that discovered the first robustly replicated genetic loci associated with brain metrics, ENIGMA has diversified into over 50 working groups (WGs), pooling worldwide data and expertise to answer fundamental questions in neuroscience, psychiatry, neurology, and genetics. Most ENIGMA WGs focus on specific psychiatric and neurological conditions, other WGs study normal variation due to sex and gender differences, or development and aging; still other WGs develop methodological pipelines and tools to facilitate harmonized analyses of "big data" (i.e., genetic and epigenetic data, multimodal MRI, and electroencephalography data). These international efforts have yielded the largest neuroimaging studies to date in schizophrenia, bipolar disorder, major depressive disorder, post-traumatic stress disorder, substance use disorders, obsessive-compulsive disorder, attentiondeficit/hyperactivity disorder, autism spectrum disorders, epilepsy, and 22q11.2 deletion syndrome. More recent ENIGMA WGs have formed to study anxiety disorders, suicidal thoughts and behavior, sleep and insomnia, eating disorders, irritability, brain injury, antisocial personality and conduct disorder, and dissociative identity disorder. Here, we summarize the first decade of ENIGMA's activities and ongoing projects, and describe the successes and challenges encountered along the way. We highlight the advantages of collaborative large-scale coordinated data analyses for testing reproducibility and robustness of findings, offering the opportunity to identify brain systems involved in clinical syndromes across diverse samples and associated genetic, environmental, demographic, cognitive, and psychosocial factors.
We describe the results of the first genome-wide association study of PTSD performed using trauma-exposed white non-Hispanic participants from a cohort of veterans and their intimate partners (295 cases and 196 controls). Several SNPs yielded evidence of association. One SNP (rs8042149), located in the retinoid-related orphan receptor alpha gene (RORA), reached genome-wide significance. Nominally significant associations were observed for other RORA SNPs in two African American replication samples—one from the veteran cohort (43 cases and 41 controls) and another independent cohort (100 cases and 421 controls). However, only the associated SNP from the veteran African American replication sample survived gene-level multiple testing correction. RORA has been implicated in prior GWAS studies of psychiatric disorders and is known to play an important role in neuroprotection and other behaviorally-relevant processes. This study represents an important step towards identifying the genetic underpinnings of PTSD.
Background Accumulating evidence suggests that post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) may accelerate cellular aging and lead to premature morbidity and neurocognitive decline. Methods This study evaluated associations between PTSD and DNA methylation (DNAm) age using recently developed algorithms of cellular age by Horvath (2013) and Hannum et al. (2013). These estimates reflect accelerated aging when they exceed chronological age. We also examined if accelerated cellular age manifested in degraded neural integrity, indexed via diffusion tensor imaging. Results Among 281 male and female veterans of the conflicts in Iraq and Afghanistan, DNAm age was strongly related to chronological age (rs ~.88). Lifetime PTSD severity was associated with Hannum DNAm age estimates residualized for chronological age (β = .13, p= .032). Advanced DNAm age was associated with reduced integrity in the genu of the corpus callosum (β = −.17, p= .009) and indirectly linked to poorer working memory performance via this region (indirect β = − .05, p= .029). Horvath DNAm age estimates were not associated with PTSD or neural integrity. Conclusions Results provide novel support for PTSD-related accelerated aging in DNAm and extend the evidence base of known DNAm age correlates to the domains of neural integrity and cognition.
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