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J Affect Disord. 2016 Jan 15;190:537-542. doi: 10.1016/j.jad.2015.10.037. Epub 2015 Oct 28.

Association of dimensional psychological health measures with telomere length in male war veterans.

Author information

1
Department of Psychiatry, University of California San Francisco, San Francisco, CA, USA; Department of Neurology and Psychiatry, Sapienza University of Rome, Rome, Italy.
2
Department of Psychiatry, University of California San Francisco, San Francisco, CA, USA; Department of Clinical Sciences, Section for Psychiatry, Lund University, Lund, Sweden.
3
Department of OB/GYN and Reproductive Science, University of California San Francisco, San Francisco, CA, USA.
4
Department of Psychiatry, University of California San Francisco, San Francisco, CA, USA; Center for Health and Community, University of California San Francisco, San Francisco, CA, USA.
5
Department of Psychiatry, MSSM/James J. Peters Veterans Administration Medical Center, New York, NY, USA.
6
Department of Psychiatry, Steven and Alexandra Cohen Veterans Center for Posttraumatic Stress and Traumatic Brain Injury, New York, NY, USA.
7
Department of Psychiatry, University of California San Francisco, San Francisco, CA, USA.
8
Department of Biochemistry and Biophysics, University of California San Francisco, San Francisco, CA, USA.
9
Department of Psychiatry, University of California San Francisco, San Francisco, CA, USA. Electronic address: Owen.Wolkowitz@ucsf.edu.

Abstract

BACKGROUND:

Several psychiatric disorders may be characterized by peripheral telomere shortening. However, it is unclear whether telomere shortening is associated with these psychiatric disorders per se or, rather, with underlying dimensional parameters that are often, but not necessarily, associated with them. We explored the association between dimensional psychopathological measures and telomere length (TL) in granulocytes among veterans independent of psychiatric diagnosis.

METHODS:

Seventy-six combat-exposed male veterans (41 psychiatrically healthy, 18 with Posttraumatic Stress Disorder [PTSD] and 17 with concomitant PTSD and Major Depressive Disorder [MDD]) had TL assayed. Assessments included Clinician-Administered PTSD Scale (CAPS), Beck Depression Inventory-II (BDI-II), Early Trauma Inventory (ETI), Symptom Checklist-90-R Global Severity Index (SCL-90-GSI), Perceived Stress Scale (PSS) and Positive and Negative Affect Schedule (PANAS). Correlations were corrected for age, BMI, antidepressants and ethnicity.

RESULTS:

Across subjects, TL was negatively correlated with early trauma (p<0.001), global psychopathological severity (p=0.044) and perceived stress (p=0.019), positively correlated with positive affect (p=0.026), not significantly correlated with symptom severity of PTSD, depression or negative affect. Across these dimensions, early trauma and positive affect were associated with TL after excluding subjects with somatic illnesses.

LIMITATIONS:

The study was cross-sectional with a moderate sample size and only male combat-exposed subjects.

CONCLUSIONS:

These preliminary findings suggest that early trauma, severity of perceived stress and general psychopathological symptoms are more closely associated with shorter TL than is the severity of core diagnostic symptoms of PTSD or MDD, whereas positive affect is associated with longer TL. Larger-scale studies should assess TL associated with specific psychiatric dimensions, apart from only categorical psychiatric diagnoses, to develop more specific biologically-relevant endophenotypes.

KEYWORDS:

Cellular ageing; Early traumatic experiences; Major depressive disorder; Positive affect; Posttraumatic stress disorder; Telomere length; War veterans

PMID:
26571103
DOI:
10.1016/j.jad.2015.10.037
[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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