Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) can develop following severe trauma, but the extent to which genetic and environmental risk factors contribute to individual clinical outcomes is unknown. Here, we compared transcriptional responses to hydrocortisone exposure in human induced pluripotent stem cell (hiPSC)-derived glutamatergic neurons and peripheral blood mononuclear cells (PBMCs) from combat veterans with PTSD (n = 19 hiPSC and n = 20 PBMC donors) and controls (n = 20 hiPSC and n = 20 PBMC donors). In neurons only, we observed diagnosis-specific glucocorticoid-induced changes in gene expression corresponding with PTSD-specific transcriptomic patterns found in human postmortem brains. We observed glucocorticoid hypersensitivity in PTSD neurons, and identified genes that contribute to this PTSD-dependent glucocorticoid response. We find evidence of a coregulated network of transcription factors that mediates glucocorticoid hyper-responsivity in PTSD. These findings suggest that induced neurons represent a platform for examining the molecular mechanisms underlying PTSD, identifying biomarkers of stress response, and conducting drug screening to identify new therapeutics.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1434-1445
Number of pages12
JournalNature Neuroscience
Issue number11
StatePublished - Nov 2022


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