Cross-Phenotype Polygenic Risk Score Analysis of Persistent Post-Concussive Symptoms in U.S. Army Soldiers with Deployment-Acquired Traumatic Brain Injury

J Neurotrauma. 2017 Feb 15;34(4):781-789. doi: 10.1089/neu.2016.4550. Epub 2016 Aug 25.


Traumatic brain injury (TBI) contributes to the increased rates of suicide and post-traumatic stress disorder in military personnel and veterans, and it is also associated with the risk for neurodegenerative and psychiatric disorders. A cross-phenotype high-resolution polygenic risk score (PRS) analysis of persistent post-concussive symptoms (PCS) was conducted in 845 U.S. Army soldiers who sustained TBI during their deployment. We used a prospective longitudinal survey of three brigade combat teams to assess deployment-acquired TBI and persistent physical, cognitive, and emotional PCS. PRS was derived from summary statistics of large genome-wide association studies of Alzheimer's disease, Parkinson's disease, schizophrenia, bipolar disorder, and major depressive disorder (MDD); and for years of schooling, college completion, childhood intelligence, infant head circumference (IHC), and adult intracranial volume. Although our study had more than 95% of statistical power to detect moderate-to-large effect sizes, no association was observed with neurodegenerative and psychiatric disorders, suggesting that persistent PCS does not share genetic components with these traits to a moderate-to-large degree. We observed a significant finding: subjects with high IHC PRS recovered better from cognitive/emotional persistent PCS than the other individuals (R2 = 1.11%; p = 3.37 × 10-3). Enrichment analysis identified two significant Gene Ontology (GO) terms related to this result: GO:0050839∼Cell adhesion molecule binding (p = 8.9 × 10-6) and GO:0050905∼Neuromuscular process (p = 9.8 × 10-5). In summary, our study indicated that the genetic predisposition to persistent PCS after TBI does not have substantial overlap with neurodegenerative and psychiatric diseases, but mechanisms related to early brain growth may be involved.

Keywords: U.S. Army; brain injury; concussion; genetic correlation; military personnel.

Publication types

  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, Non-P.H.S.
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Alzheimer Disease / genetics*
  • Bipolar Disorder / genetics*
  • Depressive Disorder, Major / genetics*
  • Female
  • Genome-Wide Association Study / statistics & numerical data*
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Military Personnel / statistics & numerical data*
  • Multifactorial Inheritance / genetics*
  • Parkinson Disease / genetics*
  • Phenotype
  • Post-Concussion Syndrome / genetics*
  • Prospective Studies
  • Risk Assessment
  • Schizophrenia / genetics*
  • United States
  • Young Adult