PTSD in women may have genetic link
February 25th, 2011
12:25 PM ET

PTSD in women may have genetic link

After a single traumatic event, as many as one-fourth of people exposed will develop post-traumatic stress disorder, a psychiatric disorder characterized by anxiety, hyperarousal and persistent unwanted memories.

Scientists are looking for genes or gene pathways that can help better predict PTSD. A new study in the journal Nature suggests one such route in women: through a protein called pituitary adenylate cyclase-activating polypeptide, which is known to regulate the cellular stress response. Women are more likely to have PTSD in general; 10% of women and 5% of men develop the condition sometime in their lives.

Participants, of which there were more than 1,200, came from an impoverished area around Atlanta, Georgia, and did not have military-related trauma. Interpersonal violence, gunshot violence, sexual assaults and other abuse were some of the triggers of PTSD reported.

Study results suggest that a particular gene variant for PACAP may be sensitive to both estrogen and stress, because it is associated with women who have PTSD.

"It helps us to understand that PTSD is complex," said Dr. Kerry Ressler of Emory University School of Medicine, lead study author. "There are many individual ways that people come to PTSD, in the same way that there are probably 100 different ways to come down with heart failure."

This is probably one of many biological pathways that lead to PTSD, he said. Understanding it will help get a better picture of the biology and the neural circuitry of PTSD, and could have implications for future diagnosis and treatment of the condition.

Ressler's group found that this gene variant is highly associated with all three subcategories of PTSD: hyperarousal, intrusive memories and avoidant behavior. It could be broadly linked to all of them, or perhaps the definition of PTSD is not specific enough to what's going on biologically, Ressler said.

In rodents, the parts of the brain associated with fear and stress alter the regulation of these genes with fear learning. This could be happening in humans also, he said.

The gene variant described in the research influences the key human stress response system, which is central to PTSD and so it makes clinical sense that it would be involved, said Dr. John Markowitz, PTSD researcher at Columbia University College of Physicians and Surgeons, who is not a geneticist but offered his clinical perspective on the research.

But, Markowitz cautioned, in an e-mail, "the history of psychiatric genetics is littered with findings subsequently retracted or not borne out." This particular study, which he called an "elegant research report," has results that apply only to an estrogen gene in chronically traumatized women.

There is more work to be done to examine the roots of PTSD in men, and there may be other pathways involved in women with acute trauma, Markowitz said. Another next step would be to examine whether the results of this study are consistent in members of the military.

soundoff (91 Responses)
  1. fun88

    Xem Thẳng Viettel Vs Bình Dương Trên V League 2021 Ở Kênh Nào? mobifone khuyến mãiĐội tuyển chọn Việt Nam chỉ cần thiết một kết trái hòa có bàn thắng nhằm lần thứ hai góp mặt trên World Cup futsal. Nhưng, để thực hiện được như vậy


    June 24, 2021 at 12:40 | Report abuse | Reply
  2. dab pens

    Custom Dab Mathttps://www.posts123.com/user/784294/zincrat7All products intended for use with legal smoking/vaping mixtures only .


    June 28, 2021 at 16:52 | Report abuse | Reply
  3. tv 101

    Links Xem Thẳng Bóng Đá Futsal Việt Nam Vs Lebanon Vòng Loại World Cupvtc3 onlineXem bóng đá trực tuyến Trực tiếp Odd BK vs Sarpsborg, 20h ngày 24/5, giải VĐQG Na Uy. Xem lịch phạt sóng trực tiếp soccer EURO ngày hôm nay được Webthethao update chủ yếu xác nhất.


    June 29, 2021 at 04:24 | Report abuse | Reply
1 2

Post a comment


CNN welcomes a lively and courteous discussion as long as you follow the Rules of Conduct set forth in our Terms of Service. Comments are not pre-screened before they post. You agree that anything you post may be used, along with your name and profile picture, in accordance with our Privacy Policy and the license you have granted pursuant to our Terms of Service.

About this blog

Get a behind-the-scenes look at the latest stories from CNN Chief Medical Correspondent, Dr. Sanjay Gupta, Senior Medical Correspondent Elizabeth Cohen and the CNN Medical Unit producers. They'll share news and views on health and medical trends - info that will help you take better care of yourself and the people you love.