Polygenic risk associated with post-traumatic stress disorder onset and severity


Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) is a psychiatric illness with a highly polygenic architecture without large effect-size common single-nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs). Thus, to capture a substantial portion of the genetic contribution, effects from many variants need to be aggregated. We investigated various aspects of one such approach that has been successfully applied to many traits, polygenic risk score (PRS) for PTSD. Theoretical analyses indicate the potential prediction ability of PRS. We used the latest summary statistics from the largest published genome-wide association study (GWAS) conducted by Psychiatric Genomics Consortium for PTSD (PGC-PTSD). We found that the PRS constructed for a cohort comprising veterans of recent wars (n = 244) explains a considerable proportion of PTSD onset (Nagelkerke R2 = 4.68%, P = 0.003) and severity (R2 = 4.35%, P = 0.0008) variances. However, the performance on an African ancestry sub-cohort was minimal. A PRS constructed with schizophrenia GWAS also explained a significant fraction of PTSD diagnosis variance (Nagelkerke R2 = 2.96%, P = 0.0175), confirming previously reported genetic correlation between the two psychiatric ailments. Overall, these findings demonstrate the important role polygenic analyses of PTSD will play in risk prediction models as well as in elucidating the biology of the disorder.

Publication Title

Translational Psychiatry