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Polygenic risk for mental disorders as predictors of posttraumatic stress disorder after mild traumatic brain injury. Transl Psychiatry 2023 Jan 25;13(1):24



Pubmed ID


Pubmed Central ID




Scopus ID

2-s2.0-85146843158 (requires institutional sign-in at Scopus site)


Many patients with mild traumatic brain injury (mTBI) are at risk for mental health problems such as posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD). The objective of this study was to determine whether the polygenic risk for PTSD (or for related mental health disorders or traits including major depressive disorder [MDD] and neuroticism [NEU]) was associated with an increased likelihood of PTSD in the aftermath of mTBI. We used data from individuals of European ancestry with mTBI enrolled in TRACK-TBI (n = 714), a prospective longitudinal study of level 1 trauma center patients. One hundred and sixteen mTBI patients (16.3%) had probable PTSD (PCL-5 score ≥33) at 6 months post-injury. We used summary statistics from recent GWAS studies of PTSD, MDD, and NEU to generate polygenic risk scores (PRS) for individuals in our sample. A multivariable model that included age, sex, pre-injury history of mental disorder, and cause of injury explained 7% of the variance in the PTSD outcome; the addition of the PTSD-PRS (and five ancestral principal components) significantly increased the variance explained to 11%. The adjusted odds of PTSD in the uppermost PTSD-PRS quintile was nearly four times higher (aOR = 3.71, 95% CI 1.80-7.65) than in the lowest PTSD-PRS quintile. There was no evidence of a statistically significant interaction between PTSD-PRS and prior history of mental disorder, indicating that PTSD-PRS had similar predictive utility among those with and without pre-injury psychiatric illness. When added to the model, neither MDD-PRS nor NEU-PRS were significantly associated with the PTSD outcome. These findings show that the risk for PTSD in the context of mTBI is, in part, genetically influenced. They also raise the possibility that an individual's PRS could be clinically actionable if used-possibly with other non-genetic predictors-to signal the need for enhanced follow-up and early intervention; this precision medicine approach needs to be prospectively studied.

Author List

Stein MB, Jain S, Parodi L, Choi KW, Maihofer AX, Nelson LD, Mukherjee P, Sun X, He F, Okonkwo DO, Giacino JT, Korley FK, Vassar MJ, Robertson CS, McCrea MA, Temkin N, Markowitz AJ, Diaz-Arrastia R, Rosand J, Manley GT, TRACK-TBI Investigators


Michael McCrea PhD Professor in the Neurosurgery department at Medical College of Wisconsin
Lindsay D. Nelson PhD Associate Professor in the Neurosurgery department at Medical College of Wisconsin

MESH terms used to index this publication - Major topics in bold

Brain Concussion
Depressive Disorder, Major
Longitudinal Studies
Prospective Studies
Stress Disorders, Post-Traumatic