Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

PTSD genes identified by UCLA study

02.04.2012
Findings could lead to new screenings, targeted therapies

Why do some persons succumb to post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) while others who suffered the same ordeal do not? A new UCLA study may shed light on the answer.

UCLA scientists have linked two genes involved in serotonin production to a higher risk of developing PTSD. Published in the April 3 online edition of the Journal of Affective Disorders, the findings suggest that susceptibility to PTSD is inherited, pointing to new ways of screening for and treating the disorder.

"People can develop post-traumatic stress disorder after surviving a life-threatening ordeal like war, rape or a natural disaster," explained lead author Dr. Armen Goenjian, a research professor of psychiatry at the Semel Institute for Neuroscience and Human Behavior at UCLA. "If confirmed, our findings could eventually lead to new ways to screen people at risk for PTSD and target specific medicines for preventing and treating the disorder."

PTSD can arise following child abuse, terrorist attacks, sexual or physical assault, major accidents, natural disasters or exposure to war or combat. Symptoms include flashbacks, feeling emotionally numb or hyper-alert to danger, and avoiding situations that remind one of the original trauma.

Goenjian and his colleagues extracted the DNA of 200 adults from several generations of 12 extended families who suffered PTSD symptoms after surviving the devastating 1988 earthquake in Armenia.

In studying the families' genes, the researchers found that persons who possessed specific variants of two genes were more likely to develop PTSD symptoms. Called TPH1 and TPH2, these genes control the production of serotonin, a brain chemical that regulates mood, sleep and alertness -- all of which are disrupted in PTSD.

"We suspect that the gene variants produce less serotonin, predisposing these family members to PTSD after exposure to violence or disaster," said Goenjian. "Our next step will be to try and replicate the findings in a larger, more heterogeneous population."

Affecting about 7 percent of Americans, PTSD has become a pressing health issue for a large percentage of war veterans returning from Iraq and Afghanistan. The UCLA team's discovery could be used to help screen persons who may be at risk for developing PTSD.

"A diagnostic tool based upon TPH1 and TPH2 could enable military leaders to identify soldiers who are at higher risk of developing PTSD, and reassign their combat duties accordingly," observed Goenjian. "Our findings may also help scientists uncover alternative treatments for the disorder, such as gene therapy or new drugs that regulate the chemicals responsible for PTSD symptoms."

According to Goenjian, pinpointing genes connected with PTSD symptoms will help neuroscientists classify the disorder based on brain biology instead of clinical observation. Psychiatrists currently rely on a trial and error approach to identify the best medication for controlling an individual patient's symptoms.

Serotonin is the target of the popular antidepressants known as SSRIs, or selective serotonin re-uptake inhibitors, which prolong the effect of serotonin in the brain by slowing its absorption by brain cells. More physicians are prescribing SSRIs to treat psychiatric disease beyond depression, including PTSD and obsessive compulsive disorder.

Goenjian's coauthors included Julia Bailey, Alan Steinberg, Uma Dandekar and Dr. Ernest Noble of UCLA; and David Walling and Devon Schmidt of the Collaborative Neuroscience Network. No external grants supported the study.

The Semel Institute for Neuroscience and Human Behavior is an interdisciplinary research and education institute devoted to the understanding of complex human behavior, including the genetic, biological, behavioral and sociocultural underpinnings of normal behavior, and the causes and consequences of neuropsychiatric disorders. In addition to conducting fundamental research, the institute's faculty seeks to develop effective strategies for the prevention and treatment of neurological, psychiatric and behavioral disorder, including improvement in access to mental health services and the shaping of national health policy.

Elaine Schmidt | EurekAlert!
Further information:
http://www.mednet.ucla.edu

More articles from Life Sciences:

nachricht Single-stranded DNA and RNA origami go live
15.12.2017 | Wyss Institute for Biologically Inspired Engineering at Harvard

nachricht New antbird species discovered in Peru by LSU ornithologists
15.12.2017 | Louisiana State University

All articles from Life Sciences >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: First-of-its-kind chemical oscillator offers new level of molecular control

DNA molecules that follow specific instructions could offer more precise molecular control of synthetic chemical systems, a discovery that opens the door for engineers to create molecular machines with new and complex behaviors.

Researchers have created chemical amplifiers and a chemical oscillator using a systematic method that has the potential to embed sophisticated circuit...

Im Focus: Long-lived storage of a photonic qubit for worldwide teleportation

MPQ scientists achieve long storage times for photonic quantum bits which break the lower bound for direct teleportation in a global quantum network.

Concerning the development of quantum memories for the realization of global quantum networks, scientists of the Quantum Dynamics Division led by Professor...

Im Focus: Electromagnetic water cloak eliminates drag and wake

Detailed calculations show water cloaks are feasible with today's technology

Researchers have developed a water cloaking concept based on electromagnetic forces that could eliminate an object's wake, greatly reducing its drag while...

Im Focus: Scientists channel graphene to understand filtration and ion transport into cells

Tiny pores at a cell's entryway act as miniature bouncers, letting in some electrically charged atoms--ions--but blocking others. Operating as exquisitely sensitive filters, these "ion channels" play a critical role in biological functions such as muscle contraction and the firing of brain cells.

To rapidly transport the right ions through the cell membrane, the tiny channels rely on a complex interplay between the ions and surrounding molecules,...

Im Focus: Towards data storage at the single molecule level

The miniaturization of the current technology of storage media is hindered by fundamental limits of quantum mechanics. A new approach consists in using so-called spin-crossover molecules as the smallest possible storage unit. Similar to normal hard drives, these special molecules can save information via their magnetic state. A research team from Kiel University has now managed to successfully place a new class of spin-crossover molecules onto a surface and to improve the molecule’s storage capacity. The storage density of conventional hard drives could therefore theoretically be increased by more than one hundred fold. The study has been published in the scientific journal Nano Letters.

Over the past few years, the building blocks of storage media have gotten ever smaller. But further miniaturization of the current technology is hindered by...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

See, understand and experience the work of the future

11.12.2017 | Event News

Innovative strategies to tackle parasitic worms

08.12.2017 | Event News

AKL’18: The opportunities and challenges of digitalization in the laser industry

07.12.2017 | Event News

 
Latest News

Engineers program tiny robots to move, think like insects

15.12.2017 | Power and Electrical Engineering

One in 5 materials chemistry papers may be wrong, study suggests

15.12.2017 | Materials Sciences

New antbird species discovered in Peru by LSU ornithologists

15.12.2017 | Life Sciences

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>