The Leptin Gene rs7799039 Modulates the Prevalence of Posttraumatic Stress Disorder After an Earthquake in Han Chinese Adolescents

Objectives: The study’s aim was to examine the prevalence and severity of posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) longitudinally among high school students with different genotypes of the leptin gene (LEP) rs7799039 after the 2008 Wenchuan earthquake in China.

Methods: The symptoms of PTSD were measured by the PTSD Checklist-Civilian Version (PCL-C) based on DSM-IV-TR criteria in 462 students at 6, 12, and 18 months after the earthquake. The genotypes of LEP rs7799039 were identified by polymerase chain reaction–restriction fragment length polymorphism analyses in 2018 using genomic DNA prepared in 2008 and stored at −80°C and verified by DNA sequencing. The association of LEP genotypes with PTSD was then analyzed by various statistical methods.

Results: The AA homozygotes had higher prevalence of PTSD than the G allele carriers at 12 months (22.30% vs 10.53%, P = .013) and higher median (interquartile range [IQR]) PCL-C scores at 12 (27.00 [24.00–35.75] vs 26.00 [22.00–31.25], P = .010) and 18 months (27.00 [21.00–32.00] vs 24.00 [19.00–29.00], P = .003) post-earthquake among female subjects. Female students had higher PCL-C scores than male subjects at 6 and 12 months regardless of the genotypes but only among the AA homozygotes at 18 months (27.00 [21.00–32.00] vs 22.00 [18.00–26.00], P = .000). The potential risk factors for and predictors of PTSD severity differed at different time points during follow-up. LEP rs7799039 was a potential factor for PTSD at 12 months and a predictor of PTSD severity at 18 months post-earthquake.

Conclusions: An association of LEP rs7799039 with the prevalence and severity of PTSD in Chinese adolescents was observed. These results indicate that females with the LEP rs7799039 AA genotype had more severe PTSD characteristics compared to female G allele carriers, suggesting that psychosocial or pharmacologic managements may particularly be needed by these female subjects.

J Clin Psychiatry 2020;81(1):18m12706

https://doi.org/10.4088/JCP.18m12706