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Potential Biomarkers For Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder Revealed

Update Date: Aug 12, 2014 02:09 PM EDT

Blood expression levels of genes targeted by the stress hormones called  glucocorticoids could act as a physical measure, or biomarker, of risk for developing Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD), according to a new study. 

Findings of the study performed on rats also suggest using hormones' receptor, the glucocorticoid receptor as a new potential target for new drugs. 

PSTD is triggered by a terrifying event and its symptoms include  flashbacks, nightmares and severe anxiety. Not everyone develops PSTD after experiencing trauma, so the study aimed to identify biomarkers that could better measure each person's vulnerability to the disorder. 

"Our aim was to determine which genes are differentially expressed in relation to PTSD," said lead investigator Rachel Yehuda, PhD, Professor of Psychiatry and Neuroscience and Director of the Traumatic Stress Studies Division at the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai, in the press release.

 "We found that most of the genes and pathways that are different in PTSD-like animals compared to resilient animals are related to the glucocorticoid receptor, which suggests we might have identified a therapeutic target for treatment of PTSD," added Dr. Yehuda, who also heads the Mental Health Patient Care Center and PTSD Research Program at the James J. Peters Veterans Affairs Medical Center in the Bronx.

The study is published in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS).

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