Study finds PTSD interacts with klotho gene, may cause premature aging in the brain

October 26, 2020

(Boston)--Genetics and the environment (including psychiatric stress) may contribute to the pace of cellular aging, causing some individuals to have a biological age that exceeds their chronological age.

Researchers from the National Center for PTSD at VA Boston Healthcare System and Boston University School of Medicine (BUSM) now have found that a variant in the klotho gene, a gene previously associated with longevity, interacts with post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) to predict accelerated aging in brain tissue. These same researchers had previously shown this effect in living subjects when epigenetic age (biological age) was measured in blood, but this is the first time it has been studied in brain tissue.

Using data from individuals who donated their brains to the VA National PTSD Brain Bank, the researchers were able to examine how genetic variation and PTSD status interacted with each other to predict biological age and gene expression. They found that older adults with PTSD showed evidence of accelerated epigenetic aging in brain tissue if they had the "at risk" (variant) at a particular location in the klotho gene. Follow-up molecular experiments led by BUSM co-authors Cidi Chen, PhD, research associate professor and Carmela Abraham, PhD, professor of biochemistry, showed that this variant regulated the transcription of the klotho gene, suggesting functional consequences of the genetic variant.

Both PTSD and klotho impact inflammation, cardiometabolic conditions and neurodegeneration, including Alzheimer's disease. According to the researchers, better understanding how klotho and PTSD interact and the mechanisms linking both genes and traumatic stress to age-related health conditions is important for the development of novel therapeutics.

"This work allows us to better pinpoint who is at risk for accelerated cellular aging, and possibly, premature disease onset (such as neurodegeneration). This can help to identify the populations at greatest risk so that targeted treatments can be matched to the individuals who need it most. As well, the results point to potential therapeutic targets (klotho) in the development of pharmacological approaches to slow the pace of cellular aging," adds lead author Erika Wolf, PhD, clinical research psychologist for the National Center for PTSD at VA Boston Healthcare System and associate professor of psychiatry at BUSM.

These findings appear online in the journal Neuropsychopharmacology.
This work was supported by the National Institute on Aging grant number 1R21AG061367 to EJW, and VA BLR&D Merit Award grant number 1I01BX003477 to MWL. This work was also supported by a Presidential Early Career Award for Scientists and Engineers (PECASE 2013A) to EJW, as administered by U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs Office of Research and Development and by the National Center for PTSD. FGM's contribution to this work was supported by National Institute of Mental Health award number 5T32MH019836-16. Genotype and methylation data were generated with the support of resources at the Pharmacogenomics Analysis Laboratory (Research Service, Central Arkansas Veterans Healthcare System, Little Rock, Arkansas), a core research laboratory funded by the Cooperative Studies Program, Research and Development, Department of Veterans Affairs. The contents of this manuscript do not represent the views of the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs, the National Institutes of Health, or the United States Government.

Boston University School of Medicine

Related PTSD Articles from Brightsurf:

'Brain fog' following COVID-19 recovery may indicate PTSD
A new report suggests that lingering ''brain fog'' and other neurological symptoms after COVID -19 recovery may be due to post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), an effect observed in past human coronavirus outbreaks such as SARS and MERS.

PTSD may double risk of dementia
People who have experienced post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) are up to twice as likely to develop dementia later in life, according to a new study by UCL researchers, published in the British Journal of Psychiatry.

How building features impact veterans with PTSD
The built environment, where someone lives (private) or works (public), influences a person's daily life and can help, or hinder, their mental health.

Work-related PTSD in nurses
A recent Journal of Clinical Nursing analysis of published studies examined the prevalence of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) among nurses and identified factors associated with work-related PTSD among nurses.

PTSD and moral injury linked to pregnancy complications
Elevated symptoms of PTSD and moral injury can lead to pregnancy complications, found a Veterans Affairs study of women military veterans.

Early treatment for PTSD after a disaster has lasting effects
In 1988, a 6.9 magnitude earthquake struck near the northern Armenian city of Spitak.

Cyberbullying Linked to Increased Depression and PTSD
Cyberbullying had the impact of amplifying symptoms of depression and post-traumatic stress disorder in young people who were inpatients at an adolescent psychiatric hospital, according to a new study published in the Journal of Clinical Psychiatry.

Psychedelic drugs could help treat PTSD
Clinical trials suggest treatment that involves psychedelics can be more effective than psychotherapy alone.

Which is more effective for treating PTSD: Medication, or psychotherapy?
A systematic review and meta-analysis led by Jeffrey Sonis, MD, MPH, of the University of North Carolina School of Medicine, finds there is insufficient evidence at present to answer that question.

Cannabis could help alleviate depression and suicidality among people with PTSD
Cannabis may be helping Canadians cope with the effects of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), new research suggests.

Read More: PTSD News and PTSD Current Events is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to