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Editorial |

The Intersection of Environment and the Genome in Posttraumatic Stress Disorder

Kerry J. Ressler, MD, PhD1,2
[+] Author Affiliations
1Division of Depression and Anxiety Disorders, McLean Hospital, Belmont, Massachusetts
2Department of Psychiatry, Harvard Medical School, Boston, Massachusetts
JAMA Psychiatry. 2016;73(7):653-654. doi:10.1001/jamapsychiatry.2016.0349.
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The genetics and biology underlying posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) is at an exciting inflection point, with progress being made rapidly in many areas. Stein and colleagues,1 in this issue of JAMA Psychiatry, present the largest effort to date in identifying genetic correlates of PTSD. Their work represents the first genome-wide association study (GWAS) from the large Army Study to Assess Risk and Resilience in Servicemembers (Army STARRS) collaborative team. Because the genetic components underlying differential risk and resilience in the aftermath of trauma have only recently been appreciated, these findings point in exciting new directions to important biological targets for advancing understanding and potentially intervention in the aftermath of trauma.

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What do we do now?
Posted on May 12, 2016
Thomas Wassink
University of Iowa
Conflict of Interest: None Declared
In spite of this upbeat editorial, the study by Stein and colleagues is profoundly negative. After all the effort and expense of gathering, characterizing, genotyping, and analyzing this wonderful sample, the results show two associated but non-replicated SNPs, no genetic overlap with other psychiatric disorders, and most remarkably (but minimially commented on), no evidence for SNP-based heritability of PTSD! Far from support for continuing in this direction, the study would seem to demand a reevaluation of the genetic basis of PTSD and of the GWAS-based approach to delineating PTSD genetics.
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