Background: The aim of this study is to investigate the association of gene variations of the monoamine oxidase A (MAOA) and the serotonin transporter solute carrier family 6 member 4 (SLC6A4) gene with posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) severity and coping strategies in patients with war related PTSD.
Subjects and methods: The study included 747 individuals who had experienced war trauma in the South Eastern Europe conflicts between 1991 and 1999. Genotyping of the MAOA VNTR and SLC6A4 tandem repeat polymorphism in combination with rs25531 was done in 719 participants: 232 females and 487 males. Among them, 369 have had current or lifetime PTSD and 350 have had no PTSD symptoms. For psychometric approach we used the Clinician Administrated PTSD Scale (CAPS), the Brief Symptom Inventory (BSI), the adapted Hoffman-Lazarus Coping scale and a basic socio-demographic data questionnaire.
Results: There were no significant intergroup (PTSD versus non PTSD) differences in the genotype distribution of MAOA and SLC6A4 gene polymorphisms. The primary finding of our study was that the MAOA short allele (MAOA-S) was nominally significantly associated with the severity of PTSD symptoms in the total subgroup of participants with lifetime PTSD; males for symptoms of hyperarrousal and females with symptoms of re-experience and hyperarousal. In our research the male subsample with current PTSD and MAOA-S genotype had nominally significantly higher scores for some positive coping strategies compared to those carrying the long allele genotype (MAOA-L). There was no significant association between the severity of PTSD symptoms, BSI phenotype, coping scores and the SLC6A4 genotype.
Conclusion: The present results support the notion that MAOA VNTR gene variation modulates development and recovery of posttraumatic stress disorder in a war traumatised population, but did not support a connection between SLC6A4 gene variations and war related PTSD.