An examination of the association between 5-HTTLPR, combat exposure, and PTSD diagnosis among U.S. Veterans

VA Mid-Atlantic MIRECC Registry Workgroup

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

25 Scopus citations


Objective To examine the association between the 5-HTTLPR polymorphism of the serotonin transporter (SLC6A4) gene, combat exposure, and posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) diagnosis and among two samples of combat-exposed veterans. Method The first sample included 550 non-Hispanic Black (NHB) combat-exposed veterans. The second sample included 555 non-Hispanic White (NHW) combat-exposed veterans. Participants were genotyped for the 5-HTTLPR/rs25531 variants of the SLC6A4 gene. A structured clinical interview was used to diagnose PTSD. Combat and civilian trauma exposure were assessed with validated self-report instruments. Logistic regression was used to test for main effects of 5-HTTLPR on PTSD diagnosis as well as gene x environment (GxE) interactions after adjusting for sex, ancestry proportion scores, civilian trauma exposure, and combat exposure. Results Within the NHB sample, a significant additive effect was observed for 5-HTTLPR (OR = 1.502, p = .0025), such that the odds of having a current diagnosis of PTSD increased by 1.502 for each additional S' allele. No evidence for an association between 5-HTTLPR and PTSD was observed in the NHWsample. In addition, no evidence for combat x 5-HTTLPR effects were observed in either sample. Conclusion The present study suggests that there may be an association between 5-HTTLPR genotype and PTSD diagnosis among NHB veterans; however, no evidence for the hypothesized 5-HTTLPR x combat interaction was found.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article numbere0119998
JournalPloS one
Issue number3
StatePublished - Mar 20 2015

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General


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