Biological underpinnings of trauma and post-traumatic stress disorder: Focusing on genetics and epigenetics

Joanne Ryan, Isabelle Chaudieu, Maurie-Laure Ancelin, Richard Saffery

Research output: Contribution to journalReview ArticleResearchpeer-review

49 Citations (Scopus)


Certain individuals are more susceptible to stress and trauma, as well as the physical and mental health consequences following such exposure, including risk for post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). This differing vulnerability is likely to be influenced by genetic predisposition and specific characteristics of the stress itself (nature, intensity and duration), as well as epigenetic mechanisms. In this review we provide an overview of research findings in this field. We highlight some of the key genetic risk factors identified for PTSD, and the evidence that epigenetic processes might play a role in the biological response to trauma, as well as being potential biomarkers of PTSD risk. We also discuss important considerations for future research in this area.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1553-1569
Number of pages17
Issue number11
Publication statusPublished - 1 Nov 2016


  • biomarkers
  • DNA methylation
  • early life
  • epigenetics
  • genetics
  • humans
  • post-traumatic stress disorder
  • stress
  • trauma

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