PTSD is associated with an increase in aged T cell phenotypes in adults living in Detroit

Allison E. Aiello, Jennifer B. Dowd, Bamini Jayabalasingham, Lydia Feinstein, Monica Uddin, Amanda M. Simanek, Caroline K. Cheng, Sandro Galea, Derek E. Wildman, Karestan Koenen, Graham Pawelec

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Background: Psychosocial stress is thought to play a key role in the acceleration of immunological aging. This study investigated the relationship between lifetime and past-year history of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and the distribution of T cell phenotypes thought to be characteristic of immunological aging. Methods: Data were from 85 individuals who participated in the community-based Detroit Neighborhood Health Study. Immune markers assessed included the CD4:CD8 ratio, the ratio of late-differentiated effector (CCR7-CD45RA+CD27-CD28-) to naïve (CCR7+CD45RA+CD27+CD28+) T cells, the percentage of KLRG1-expressing cells, and the percentage of CD57-expressing cells. Results: In models adjusted for age, gender, race/ethnicity, education, smoking status, and medication use, we found that past-year PTSD was associated with statistically significant differences in the CD8+ T cell population, including a higher ratio of late-differentiated effector to naïve T cells, a higher percentage of KLRG1+ cells, and a higher percentage of CD57+ cells. The percentage of CD57+ cells in the CD4 subset was also significantly higher and the CD4:CD8 ratio significantly lower among individuals who had experienced past-year PTSD. Lifetime PTSD was also associated with differences in several parameters of immune aging. Conclusions: PTSD is associated with an aged immune phenotype and should be evaluated as a potential catalyzer of accelerated immunological aging in future studies.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)133-141
Number of pages9
StatePublished - May 1 2016


  • Aging
  • Detroit
  • Immunity
  • Immunosenescence
  • Post traumatic stress disorder
  • T cells

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Endocrinology, Diabetes and Metabolism
  • Endocrinology
  • Endocrine and Autonomic Systems
  • Psychiatry and Mental health
  • Biological Psychiatry


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