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New Findings on Heritability of PTSD

New Findings on Heritability of PTSDImproved appreciation of the mental and physical effects of trauma has led to the clinical diagnosis of post-traumatic stress disorder. Emerging research on PTSD seeks to discover if genetic factors may contribute to developing the condition.

One factor that appears to contribute to the heritable vulnerability to PTSD is a variation in the gene that codes for the serotonin transporter, also known as the serotonin uptake site.

Having a shorter version of the serotonin transporter gene appears to increase one’s risk for depression and PTSD after exposure to extremely stressful situations.

This same gene variant increases the activation of an emotion control center in the brain, the amygdala. More recently, scientists began focusing on factors contributing to resilience to the impact of stress exposure.

Could the same gene that contributes to the vulnerability to PTSD be implicated in the recovery from PTSD?

In their new study appearing in Biological Psychiatry, Dr. Richard Bryant and colleagues assessed whether serotonin transporter genotype predicted a change in patients’ PTSD severity following treatment.

Specifically, patients with PTSD were classified according to their genotype, and they received eight weeks of cognitive behavioral therapy.

Approximately one third of patients do not respond to this treatment, and this study has now demonstrated that there may be a genetic basis for not responding to this therapy.

Dr. Bryant explained: “Patients with PTSD who carried the short allele of the serotonin transporter gene promoter responded more poorly to treatment than other PTSD patients. This study highlights that the serotonin system is implicated in responding to cognitive behavior therapy.”

The recent focus on personalized medicine has emphasized the impact of variation in genes that influence the responses to medications. This study supports the reasoning that genetic variation would also influence the response to psychotherapeutic or rehabilitative treatments.

Dr. John Krystal, editor of Biological Psychiatry, noted, “While this study identifies a potential predictor of poor treatment response, it also may help to identify groups of individuals who respond relatively favorably to treatment.

“It is interesting this ‘good outcome’ group is a group that is also more resilient, i.e., less likely to develop PTSD or depression, after stress.”

Although further research is necessary, this initial finding indicates that PTSD treatments may need to be modified to accommodate patients’ genetic profiles.

Source: Elsevier

New Findings on Heritability of PTSD

Rick Nauert PhD

Rick Nauert, PhDDr. Rick Nauert has over 25 years experience in clinical, administrative and academic healthcare. He is currently an associate professor for Rocky Mountain University of Health Professionals doctoral program in health promotion and wellness. Dr. Nauert began his career as a clinical physical therapist and served as a regional manager for a publicly traded multidisciplinary rehabilitation agency for 12 years. He has masters degrees in health-fitness management and healthcare administration and a doctoral degree from The University of Texas at Austin focused on health care informatics, health administration, health education and health policy. His research efforts included the area of telehealth with a specialty in disease management.

APA Reference
Nauert PhD, R. (2015). New Findings on Heritability of PTSD. Psych Central. Retrieved on September 22, 2018, from https://psychcentral.com/news/2010/06/18/new-findings-on-heritability-of-ptsd/14759.html

 

Scientifically Reviewed
Last updated: 6 Oct 2015
Last reviewed: By John M. Grohol, Psy.D. on 6 Oct 2015
Published on PsychCentral.com. All rights reserved.