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Integration of neural and epigenetic contributions to posttraumatic stress symptoms: The role of hippocampal volume and glucocorticoid receptor gene methylation.
McNerney MW, Sheng T, Nechvatal JM, Lee AG, Lyons DM, Soman S, Liao CP, O'Hara R, Hallmayer J, Taylor J, Ashford JW, Yesavage J, Adamson MM. Integration of neural and epigenetic contributions to posttraumatic stress symptoms: The role of hippocampal volume and glucocorticoid receptor gene methylation. PLoS ONE. 2018 Feb 7; 13(2):e0192222.
Many Veterans exposed to physical and psychological trauma experience symptoms of posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD). As the etiology of PTSD symptoms is complex, a better understanding of the underlying biological mechanisms may improve preventative care and treatment for PTSD. Recent findings from the fields of neuroimaging and epigenetics offer important insights into the potential brain structures and biochemical pathways of modified gene expression associated with PTSD. We combined neuroimaging and epigenetic measures to assess current PTSD symptoms by measuring overall hippocampal volume and methylation of the glucocorticoid receptor (GR) gene (promoter region). Multiple regression analyses indicated that the hippocampal volume/GR methylation interaction was a predictor of PTSD symptoms. Our findings suggest that neuroimaging and epigenetic measures contribute interactively to PTSD symptoms. Incorporation of these metrics may aid in the identification and treatment of PTSD patients.