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San Diego Scientists Link Genes With PTSD, Before And After War


Gene activity related to the immune system may predispose certain soldiers to developing post-traumatic stress disorder, according to a new study.

Gene activity related to the immune system may predispose certain soldiers to post-traumatic stress disorder, according to a new study.

Researchers at the Veterans Affairs San Diego Healthcare System and the UC San Diego School of Medicine were part of a team that studied 188 Marines before and after deployment.

Using blood samples, the researchers compared gene activity in a group of Marines. Some went on to develop PTSD after deployment, while others did not.

The researchers noticed that certain genes involved in preparing the body for an immune response were more active in Marines who ended up getting PTSD. Wanting to know if the same pattern would play out a second time, they tested a new batch of Marines before and after they were shipped off to war.

"If you look before deployment, they also serve as a predictor of who goes on to get PTSD," said VA psychiatrist Dewleen Baker, co-author of the new study identifying these genetic differences. The research was published Tuesday in Molecular Psychiatry.

"This study is unique in that it uses pre- and post-deployment samples trying to detect genomic predictors of vulnerability and resilience," said Icahn School of Medicine psychiatrist Nikolaos Daskalakis in an email.

Baker says the goal of this research is to help the military design a simple screening test for PTSD risk in new recruits. For now, she hopes to see more research on exactly why this immune response would be associated with PTSD.


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