PTSD risk tied to certain genes
A person's risk of developing post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) may be affected, at least in part, by genetic variances, according to new research.
PTSD, a psychiatric disorder that can occur following a trauma, affects about 5.2 million adults in the U.S. every year, according to the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH). Statistics also show that about 7 percent of the U.S. population will have PTSD at some point in their lives.
The new study aimed to find out why certain people experience PTSD following a trauma, such as war, rape or a natural disaster, while others do not.
Scientists from the University of California in Los Angeles (UCLA) first collected DNA samples from 200 individuals. The DNA samples were previously taken from individuals and families who survived a destructive earthquake in Armenia in 1988. Next, researchers analyzed the roles of two genes called COMT, which lowers dopamine, and TPH-2, which controls serotinin production.
The researchers found a link between variants of the two genes and PTSD symptoms. The findings, published in the Journal of Affective Disorders, suggest that people who carry the genetic variants may have a higher risk of developing PTSD. Researchers said they hope that the findings will lead to new screening methods for people at risk for PTSD, as well as new therapies to prevent and treat the disorder.