The role of the dopamine transporter (DAT) in the development of PTSD in preschool children


  • This research was supported by a R01 MH65884-01 from the NIMH, awarded to Dr. Scheeringa, as well as an APIRE research award from the American Psychiatric Association awarded to Stacy S. Drury, M.D, Ph.D.


Population-based association studies have supported the heritability of posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD). This study explored the influence of genetic variation in the dopamine transporter (DAT) 3′ untranslated region variable number tandem repeat on the development of PTSD in preschool children exposed to Hurricane Katrina, diagnosed using a developmentally appropriate semistructured interview. A diagnosis according to the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, Fourth Edition , (DSM-IV; American Psychiatric Association, 1994), total symptoms, and specifically Criterion D symptoms were significantly more likely to be found in children with the 9 allele. This study replicates a previous finding in adults with PTSD. The specificity of this finding to the increased arousal symptoms of Criterion D suggests that dopamine and the DAT allele may contribute to one heritable path in a multifinality model of the development of PTSD.