Genomic Approaches to Posttraumatic Stress Disorder: The Psychiatric Genomic Consortium Initiative

Caroline M. Nievergelt, Allison E. Ashley-Koch, Shareefa Dalvie, Michael A. Hauser, Rajendra A. Morey, Alicia K. Smith, Monica Uddin

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review


Posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) after exposure to a traumatic event is a highly prevalent psychiatric disorder. Heritability estimates from twin studies as well as from recent molecular data (single nucleotide polymorphism–based heritability) indicate moderate to high heritability, yet robust genetic variants for PTSD have not yet been identified and the genetic architecture of this polygenic disorder remains largely unknown. To date, fewer than 10 large-scale genome-wide association studies of PTSD have been published, with findings that highlight the unique challenges for PTSD genomics, including a complex diagnostic entity with contingency of PTSD diagnosis on trauma exposure and the large genetic diversity of the study populations. The Psychiatric Genomics Consortium PTSD group has brought together more than 200 scientists with the goal to increase sample size for genome-wide association studies and other genomic analyses to sufficient numbers where robust discoveries of molecular signatures can be achieved. The sample currently includes more than 32,000 PTSD cases and 100,000 trauma-exposed control subjects, and collection is ongoing. The first results found a significant shared genetic risk of PTSD with other psychiatric disorders and sex-biased heritability estimates with higher heritability in female individuals compared with male individuals. This review describes the scope and current focus of the Psychiatric Genomics Consortium PTSD group and its expansion from the initial genome-wide association study group to nine working groups, including epigenetics, gene expression, imaging, and integrative systems biology. We further briefly outline recent findings and future directions of “omics”-based studies of PTSD, with the ultimate goal of elucidating the molecular architecture of this complex disorder to improve prevention and intervention strategies.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)831-839
Number of pages9
JournalBiological Psychiatry
Issue number10
StatePublished - May 15 2018


  • Epigenetics
  • Gene expression
  • Genetics
  • Imaging
  • Psychiatric Genomics Consortium (PGC)
  • Systems biology

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biological Psychiatry


Dive into the research topics of 'Genomic Approaches to Posttraumatic Stress Disorder: The Psychiatric Genomic Consortium Initiative'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this