Researchers Identify Potential PTSD Biomarker

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Post-traumatic stress disorder is frighteningly common in veterans returning home from combat, but the condition can be surprisingly difficult to accurately diagnose. The symptoms related to PTSD are often confused with symptoms from other common injuries like traumatic brain injury or other mental conditions.

DNA-molecule2A new study published in the journal Molecular Psychiatry may help solve this problem as researchers have identified potential genetic markers linked with PTSD in blood samples drawn from U.S. marines who have served in combat zones.

For this study, Dewleen Baker from the University of California, San Diego and colleagues analyzed the blood samples from 188 American marines. Samples were taken prior to deployment and then again following to deployment to conflict zones.

The researchers say they were able to identify genetic markers of interferon signaling and innate immunity before and after the development of PTSD. The team also replicated the findings in a second analysis of other marines

“The question to ask is what’s stimulating an interferon response prior to PTSD development,” Baker said. “The answer could be any number of factors, ranging from a simple explanation of increased anticipatory stress prior to deployment or more complex scenarios where individuals may have a higher viral load.”

If the findings are confirmed, the researchers believe it could open the door for improved diagnosis and treatment of individuals with PTSD. It may also allow for predictive testing to identify who may be susceptible to the condition.

“These findings provide novel insights for early preventative measures and advanced PTSD detection, which may lead to interventions that delay or perhaps abrogate the development of PTSD,” the researchers wrote.

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