Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Psychology (Ph.D.)



First Advisor

William Chaplin

Second Advisor

Melissa Peckins

Third Advisor

Wilson McDermut


Polygenic risk scores (PRS) derived from genome-wide association studies (GWAS) of posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) may inform risk models of PTSD. To date, however, no known study has examined moderators such as attachment style that may impact the relation between PRS and PTSD. Main and interactive effects of PRS and attachment style on PTSD symptoms were evaluated in a nationally representative sample of trauma-exposed, European-American U.S. military veterans (N=2,030). PRS were derived from a GWAS of PTSD re-experiencing symptoms (N=146,660) in the Million Veteran Program. Higher re-experiencing PRS and secure attachment style were independently associated with more severe PTSD symptoms. A significant PRS-by-attachment style interaction was also observed, with a positive association between re-experiencing PRS and PTSD symptoms observed only in the context of insecure attachment style. PRS enrichment analyses conducted to identify biological pathways of PRS revealed a significant interaction between attachment style and a variant mapping to the IGSF11 gene. This gene is implicated in the regulation of excitatory synaptic transmission and plasticity. These findings suggest that attachment style may moderate polygenic risk for PTSD, with potential implications for preventative treatment for those at highest risk.

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Psychology Commons