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A Gene may help determine At-Risk Individuals for PTSD

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Boston, U.S. – The Boston University School of Medicine (BUSM), the National Center for PTSD (US) and the Translational Research Center for TBI and Stress Disorders at VA Boston Healthcare System have come together to study the SKA2 gene with blood chemical changes resulting from military trauma and whether it could be used to predict symptoms of mental illnesses such as PTSD.

The study used MRI scans and blood samples of 200 war veterans who had recently returned from Iraq and Afghanistan. The team found that there is a correlation between the blood chemical changes and the corticol thickness of the prefrontal cortex. An increase in the blood chemical changes in SKA2 translates to a decrease in the corticol thickness. This finding may explain why SKA2 is able to predict an individual’s risk of psychological symptoms such as PTSD.

Additionally, researchers are looking into an assortment of other genes to see if they have the role of creating fear memories. These include: genes that make a protein (Stathmin) required to create fear memories, genes that produce a signaling chemical (gastrin-releasing peptide) at the onset of emotional events, and a version of a gene (5-HTTLPR) that controls serotonin – a mood-related brain chemical for fear response. Some key areas in the brain that the researchers are focusing on are: the amygdala, the prefrontal cortex, the medial prefrontal cortex, and the ventromedial prefrontal cortex.

According to the head researcher, Naomi Samimi Sadeh, Ph.D., it is believed that the blood test has the potential of helping to identify at-risk individuals for PTSD.

Source: Bel Marra Health