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Study Identifies Gene Significantly Associated With PTSD in Veterans

March 31, 2020

An epigenome-wide association study of US veterans with post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) found a significant association with PTSD involving cg19534438 in the G0/G1 Switch 2 (G0S2) gene. Researchers published their findings online in the journal Clinical Epigenetics. 

The finding stemmed from an analysis of DNA methylation at more than 850,000 sites throughout the genome in blood samples from 378 veterans with PTSD and 135 control subjects.

The association with PTSD at cg19534438 in G0S2 was replicated in an independent consortium-based meta-analysis of military cohorts. 

“The G0S2 protein is well-known for its role in regulating lipid metabolism where it serves as a negative regulator of lipolysis,” researchers wrote. “It has been implicated in mechanisms of obesity, diabetes, aging, and cancer, and linked to gene networks involved in apoptosis, cell communication, and cell death. Because of this, future investigations could examine a potential role of G0S2 in the well-established link between PTSD and metabolic disorders.” 

Researchers also found an association with PTSD and reduced methylation locus cg05575921 of the Aryl-hydrocarbon Receptor Repressor (AHRR) gene, which has a well-established link with smoking. The finding replicates a previously observed association, according to the study, and suggests a smoking-independent effect. 

In an examination of DNA methylation data from prefrontal cortex tissue from a recently established PTSD brain bank, cg04130728 in the carbohydrate (chondroitin 4) sulfotransferase 11 gene (CHST11) was significantly associated with PTSD, researchers reported.

“The cross replication observed in independent cohorts is evidence that DNA methylation in peripheral tissue can yield consistent and replicable PTSD associations,” researchers wrote, “and our results also suggest that that some PTSD associations observed in peripheral tissue may mirror associations in the brain.”

Jolynn Tumolo


Logue MW, Miller MW, Wolf EJ, et al. An epigenome-wide association study of posttraumatic stress disorder in US veterans implicates several new DNA methylation loci. Clin Epigenetics. 2020;12(1):46. Published 2020 Mar 14. doi:10.1186/s13148-020-0820-0

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