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Accelerated DNA methylation aging and increased resilience in veterans: The biological cost for soldiering on

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Carrillo-Roa,  Tania
Dept. Translational Research in Psychiatry, Max Planck Institute of Psychiatry, Max Planck Society;

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Binder,  Elisabeth B.
Dept. Translational Research in Psychiatry, Max Planck Institute of Psychiatry, Max Planck Society;
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Citation

Mehta, D., Bruenig, D., Lawford, B., Harvey, W., Carrillo-Roa, T., Morris, C. P., et al. (2018). Accelerated DNA methylation aging and increased resilience in veterans: The biological cost for soldiering on. NEUROBIOLOGY OF STRESS, 8, 112-119. doi:10.1016/j.ynstr.2018.04.001.


Cite as: https://hdl.handle.net/21.11116/0000-0002-6A3C-5
Abstract
Accelerated epigenetic aging, the difference between the DNA methylation-predicted age (DNAm age) and the chronological age, is associated with a myriad of diseases. This study investigates the relationship between epigenetic aging and risk and protective factors of PTSD. Genome-wide DNA methylation analysis was performed in 211 individuals including combat-exposed Australian veterans (discovery cohort, n=96 males) and trauma-exposed civilian males from the Grady Trauma Project (replication cohort, n=115 males). Primary measures included the Clinician Administered PTSD Scale for DSM-5 and the Connor-Davidson Resilience Scale (CD-RISC). DNAm age prediction was performed using the validated epigenetic clock calculator. Veterans with PTSD had increased PTSD symptom severity (P-value=3.75x10(-34)) and lower CD-RISC scores (Pvalue=7.5x10(-8)) than veterans without PTSD. DNAm age was significantly correlated with the chronological age (P-value=3.3x10(-6)), but DNAm age acceleration was not different between the PTSD and non-PTSD groups (P-value=0.24). Evaluating potential protective factors, we found that DNAm age acceleration was significantly associated with CD-RISC resilience scores in veterans with PTSD, these results remained significant after multiple testing correction (P-value=0.023; r=0.32). This finding was also replicated in an independent trauma-exposed civilian cohort (P-value=0.02; r=0.23). Post-hoc factor analyses revealed that this association was likely driven by "self-efficacy" items within the CD-RISC (P-value=0.015; r=0.35). These results suggest that among individuals already suffering from PTSD, some aspects of increased resilience might come at a biological cost.