PTSD’s genetic component validated in new study

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April 24, 2024 – A new genetic study of more than 1.2 million people has pinpointed 95 loci, or locations in the genome, linked with risk of developing posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD), in which exposure to trauma can harm a person’s quality of life with symptoms such as intrusive thoughts and mood instability.

The findings further validate the role that heritability plays in the disorder and could lead to new prevention and treatment strategies.

Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health’s Karestan Koenen was senior author on the study, which came from the PTSD working group within the Psychiatric Genomic Consortium and Cohen Veterans Bioscience. The study was published April 18 in Nature Genetics.

Koenen called the study’s findings “a milestone for PTSD genetics” in a press release from the Broad Institute of MIT and Harvard. Koenen, professor of psychiatric epidemiology at Harvard Chan, is an investigator with the Broad’s Stanley Center for Psychiatric Research.

For the study, Koenen and colleagues looked at data from 88 different genome-wide association studies—studies that examine genetic data from large groups of people to look for links between certain regions of the genome and the risk of developing particular conditions. The study found 95 loci strongly linked with PTSD risk, as well as 43 genes that appear to play a role in causing PTSD.

Read a Broad Institute press release about the study: Scientists uncover 95 regions of the genome linked to PTSD

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