The Association of Posttraumatic Stress Disorder With Longitudinal Change in Glomerular Filtration Rate in World Trade Center Responders

Psychosom Med. 2021 Nov-Dec;83(9):978-986. doi: 10.1097/PSY.0000000000000968.


Objective: High levels of psychological distress increase the risk of a wide range of medical diseases. In this study, we investigated the association between posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and kidney disease.

Methods: World Trade Center (WTC) responders were included if they had two or more measures of estimated glomerular filtration rate (eGFR). The PTSD Checklist (PCL) was used to define no PTSD (PCL < 40), "mild" PTSD (40 ≤ PCL <50), and "severe" PTSD (PCL ≥50). Subtypes of PTSD by symptom clusters were analyzed. Multinomial logistic regression was used to estimate the association of PTSD with two GFR change outcomes (decline or increase) compared with the stable GFR outcome.

Results: In 2266 participants, the mean age was 53.1 years, 8.2% were female, and 89.1% were White. Individuals with PTSD (n = 373; 16.5%) did not differ in mean baseline GFR from individuals without PTSD (89.73 versus 90.56 mL min-1 1.73 m-2; p = .29). During a 2.01-year mean follow-up, a mean GFR decline of -1.51 mL min-1 1.73 m-2 per year was noted. In multivariable-adjusted models, PTSD was associated with GFR decline (adjusted relative risk [aRR] = 1.74 [1.32-2.30], p < .001) compared with stable GFR, with "hyperarousal" symptoms showing the strongest association (aRR =2.11 [1.40-3.19]; p < .001). Dose-response effects were evident when comparing mild with severe PTSD and comparing PTSD with versus without depression. PTSD was also associated with GFR rise (aRR = 1.47 [1.10-1.97], p < .009). The association between PTSD and GFR change was stronger in participants older than 50 years.

Conclusions: PTSD may be a novel risk factor for exaggerated longitudinal GFR change in young, healthy adults. These findings need to be validated in other cohorts.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Emergency Responders*
  • Female
  • Glomerular Filtration Rate
  • Humans
  • Middle Aged
  • Risk Factors
  • September 11 Terrorist Attacks*
  • Stress Disorders, Post-Traumatic* / epidemiology
  • Stress Disorders, Post-Traumatic* / etiology