Scientists have identified genetic markers associated with post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). Findings from the study are published in the journal Molecular Psychiatry.

Researchers from the Veterans Affairs San Diego Healthcare System and University of California San Diego School of Medicine believe the genetic markers can help improve diagnosis, treatment, as well as help predict patients who may be more susceptible. The genetic markers are related to gene networks that regulate innate immune function and interferon signaling.

The team analyzed blood samples from U.S. Marines (n=188) that were obtained before and after deployment to conflict zones. Genes involved in innate immune response and interferon signaling linked to PTSD were identified. The results were replicated with another independent group of 96 Marines. Signs of innate immunity and interferon signaling were detected both before and after developing PTSD for the two groups.

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Experts believe identifying those at risk for developing PTSD may be possible through high-throughput profiling of molecular data. Further studies in developing a blood panel of predictive biomarkers to identify people at greater risk of developing PTSD, and using molecular information from blood samples to design targeted therapies to treat or help prevent PTSD are needed.

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