New genetic research can lead to more effective post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) treatments. The study presented in Brain, Behavior and Immunity portrays new light on how PTSD is associated with inflammatory processes. Earlier studies have shown that PTSD is associated with higher levels of inflammatory markers in blood. However, the mechanisms that cause PTSD patients to suffer from the higher degree of chronic inflammation are still unclear.
"I was truly inspired by the incredible opportunity that modern genetic technology provides to determine the biological mechanisms underlying PTSD symptoms," said study author Heather L. Rusch, a research fellow at the National Institute of Nursing Research. .
"Talk therapy and anti-depressants are the first line treatments for PTSD today; But they do not work for everyone, leaving many patients without viable options. If we can learn how the disorder works at a genetic level, then We can develop more effective treatments with reduced side effects. "" PTSD can be difficult to diagnose because it shares symptoms with other mental and physical health conditions. When PTSD is misdiagnosed, patients do not receive the right treatment, which can be harmful. We wanted to see what symptoms had a specific genetic link to a PTSD diagnosis for the purpose of creating diagnostic tests and improved precision treatments, "Rusch explained.
For their study, the researchers compared 39 US military members with PTSD to 27 service members without PTSD. The participants reviewed a psychiatric evaluation and had blood samples taken at the beginning of the study and again on a 1
The researchers found that gene expression differences were almost entirely attributed to burglary symptoms. They also found evidence that these PTSD symptoms were associated with higher levels of inflammation-related biomarkers.
"We found out that the genetic differences between people who have PTSD and those who are not almost exclusively attributed (98%) to burglary symptoms (eg, reliving trauma, nightmares, and feedbacks) while not were genetic differences due to the other PTSD symptoms such as cognitive deficits, depressed mood and irritability, which are common among other conditions, "Rusch PsyPost said.
"This highlights the importance of focusing on the symptoms of precision medicine. In addition, we found that symptoms of intrusion were associated with increased expression of immune response genes that normalized with symptom reduction. From an evolutionary perspective, it would make sense that a threat response would work. Along with an immune response – something that scares you, is likely to hurt you. "The results point to promising new treatments, but more research is needed.
"The biggest reservation to our study is our small sample size of predominantly male participants. We are currently copying the study into a larger sample using advanced technology that allows us to examine both known genes and explore unidentified," explained Rusch.
"In the end, we will use these genetic tests to predict who will develop PTSD after a traumatic event and identify the most effective treatment for a given patient. In addition, we plan to develop objective measures for the patient's response to treatment. – If it does not work, we would like to know early so that we can change the treatment plan. "
People with PTSD experienced an increased risk of a myriad of inflammation-related conditions such as cardiovascular disease and gastrointestinal disease.
"First line treatments for PTSD targets psychological symptoms; However, the presence of immune response genes suggests the need for a more comprehensive approach to dealing with the biological consequences of trauma. It is possible that the growing interest in alternative therapies for PTSD as Meditation, yoga and other interventions that increase physical activity or change dietary intake may benefit from their anti-inflammatory effects, "Rusch said.
"I would like to point out that this research opens a study line for new therapies that directly target inflammatory markers, which can result in improved psychological and biological results."
The study "Gene expression differences in PTSD are unambiguously related. for the burglary symptom cluster: a transcriptome-wide analysis in military service members "was author of Heather L. Rusch, Jeffrey Robinson, Sijung Yun, Nicole D. Osier, Christina Martin, Chris R. Brewin, Jessica M. Gill.