Genome-wide association study of post-traumatic stress disorder in two high-risk populations

Whitney E. Melroy-Greif, Kirk C. Wilhelmsen, Rachel Yehuda, Cindy L. Ehlers

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

13 Scopus citations


Mexican Americans (MAs) and American Indians (AIs) constitute conspicuously understudied groups with respect to risk for post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), especially in light of findings showing racial/ethnic differences in trauma exposure and risk for PTSD. The purpose of this study was to examine genetic influences on PTSD in two minority cohorts. A genome-wide association study (GWAS) with sum PTSD symptoms for trauma-exposed subjects was run in each cohort. Six highly correlated variants in olfactory receptor family 11 subfamily L member 1 (OR11L1) were suggestively associated with PTSD in the MA cohort. These associations remained suggestively significant after permutation testing. A signal in a nearby olfactory receptor on chromosome 1, olfactory receptor family 2 subfamily L member 13 (OR2L13), tagged by rs151319968, was nominally associated with PTSD in the AI sample. Although no variants were significantly associated after correction for multiple testing in a meta-analysis of the two cohorts, pathway analysis of the top hits showed an enrichment cluster of terms related to sensory transduction, olfactory receptor activity, G-protein coupled receptors, and membrane. As previous studies have proposed a role for olfaction in PTSD, our results indicate this influence may be partially driven by genetic variation in the olfactory system.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)197-207
Number of pages11
JournalTwin Research and Human Genetics
Issue number3
StatePublished - 1 Jun 2017


  • American Indians
  • GWAS
  • Mexican Americans
  • PTSD
  • enrichment analysis
  • olfaction


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