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Mol Psychiatry. 2002;7(8):903-7.

Association between the dopamine transporter gene and posttraumatic stress disorder.

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Department of Psychiatry, Hadassah-Hebrew University Medical Center, Hadassah University Hospital, PO Box 12000, Ein Karem, Jerusalem 91120, Israel.


Posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) is a chronic anxiety disorder that follows exposure to extreme events. A large twin study of Vietnam veterans had demonstrated a significant genetic contribution to chronic PTSD upon exposure to combat.(1,2) The underlying genes, however, have not been described. Given previous findings of abnormal dopamine (DA) function in PTSD, and given the putative effect of dopamine neurotransmission in shaping the responses to stress in animals, this study examined the association of the dopamine transporter (DAT) SLC6A3 3' variable number tandem repeat (VNTR) polymorphism with PTSD. The study evaluated 102 chronic PTSD patients and 104 carefully-documented trauma survivors (TS) who did not develop PTSD. Significant excess of 9 repeat allele was observed among PTSD patients (43% vs 30.5% in TS controls; chi(2) = 6.3, df = 1, P = 0.012). An excess of 9 repeat homozygous genotype was also observed in PTSD (20.43% in PTSD vs 9.47% in TS controls; chi(2) = 6.11, df = 2, P < 0.047). These findings suggest that genetically determined changes in dopaminergic reactivity may contribute to the occurrence of PTSD among trauma survivors.

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