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Posttraumatic psychopathology and the pace of the epigenetic clock: a longitudinal investigation

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  13 June 2018

Erika J. Wolf
Affiliation:
National Center for PTSD at VA Boston Healthcare System, Boston, MA 02130, USA Department of Psychiatry, Boston University School of Medicine, Boston, MA, USA
Mark W. Logue
Affiliation:
National Center for PTSD at VA Boston Healthcare System, Boston, MA 02130, USA Department of Psychiatry, Boston University School of Medicine, Boston, MA, USA Biomedical Genetics, Boston University School of Medicine, Boston, MA, USA
Filomene G. Morrison
Affiliation:
National Center for PTSD at VA Boston Healthcare System, Boston, MA 02130, USA Department of Psychiatry, Boston University School of Medicine, Boston, MA, USA
Elizabeth S. Wilcox
Affiliation:
National Center for PTSD at VA Boston Healthcare System, Boston, MA 02130, USA
Annjanette Stone
Affiliation:
Pharmacogenomics Analysis Laboratory, Research Service, Central Arkansas Veterans Healthcare System, Little Rock, AR, USA
Steven A. Schichman
Affiliation:
Pharmacogenomics Analysis Laboratory, Research Service, Central Arkansas Veterans Healthcare System, Little Rock, AR, USA
Regina E. McGlinchey
Affiliation:
Geriatric Research Educational and Clinical Center and Translational Research Center for TBI and Stress Disorders, VA Boston Healthcare System, Boston, MA, USA Department of Psychiatry, Harvard Medical School, Boston, MA, USA
William P. Milberg
Affiliation:
Geriatric Research Educational and Clinical Center and Translational Research Center for TBI and Stress Disorders, VA Boston Healthcare System, Boston, MA, USA Department of Psychiatry, Harvard Medical School, Boston, MA, USA
Mark W. Miller
Affiliation:
National Center for PTSD at VA Boston Healthcare System, Boston, MA 02130, USA Department of Psychiatry, Boston University School of Medicine, Boston, MA, USA
Corresponding
E-mail address:

Abstract

Background

Posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and stress/trauma exposure are cross-sectionally associated with advanced DNA methylation age relative to chronological age. However, longitudinal inquiry and examination of associations between advanced DNA methylation age and a broader range of psychiatric disorders is lacking. The aim of this study was to examine if PTSD, depression, generalized anxiety, and alcohol-use disorders predicted acceleration of DNA methylation age over time (i.e. an increasing pace, or rate of advancement, of the epigenetic clock).

Methods

Genome-wide DNA methylation and a comprehensive set of psychiatric symptoms and diagnoses were assessed in 179 Iraq/Afghanistan war veterans who completed two assessments over the course of approximately 2 years. Two DNA methylation age indices (Horvath and Hannum), each a weighted index of an array of genome-wide DNA methylation probes, were quantified. The pace of the epigenetic clock was operationalized as change in DNA methylation age as a function of time between assessments.

Results

Analyses revealed that alcohol-use disorders (p = 0.001) and PTSD avoidance and numbing symptoms (p = 0.02) at Time 1 were associated with an increasing pace of the epigenetic clock over time, per the Horvath (but not the Hannum) index of cellular aging.

Conclusions

This is the first study to suggest that posttraumatic psychopathology is longitudinally associated with a quickened pace of the epigenetic clock. Results raise the possibility that accelerated cellular aging is a common biological consequence of stress-related psychopathology, which carries implications for identifying mechanisms of stress-related cellular aging and developing interventions to slow its pace.

Type
Original Articles
Copyright
Copyright © Cambridge University Press 2018 

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