PTSD risk may be passed down through our DNA

During in addition to also after the war, he used alcohol to numb the pain; as Presley grew up, so did she.

“I’ve always felt like I inherited This kind of sadness in which wasn’t my own,” said Presley, 38, at This kind of point a teacher in Atlanta.

Presley was diagnosed with PTSD in 2010, in addition to also the idea in which trauma can be passed down generations has long hit close to home.

A study published today in Molecular Psychiatry sheds brand new light on why some people might develop PTSD in addition to also others don’t. For some, the key might lie in their DNA.
Christal Presley was born after the Vietnam War yet has been affected by the item through her father, a veteran with PTSD
Trauma can be exceedingly common, yet “some people seem to be very resilient to the item, in addition to also some people seem to struggle with the item,” said Karestan Koenen, professor of psychiatric epidemiology at the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health, who led the study.

For those who develop PTSD, the fear in addition to also stress of trauma doesn’t go away.

When the stress becomes chronic, people may re-experience traumatic events inside form of nightmares in addition to also flashbacks, according to the National Institute of Mental Health. Presley said in which she had nightmares of war, even though she never saw the item firsthand.
“the item’s going to take a village to find genes for PTSD risk if in fact they exist,” said Rachel Yehuda, professor of psychiatry in addition to also neuroscience at the Mount Sinai Icahn School of Medicine. “The risk for PTSD can be more nuanced than the genes you inherit through your parents.”
Yehuda, another of the study’s authors, was an early researcher of trauma in addition to also heritability. Her research on Holocaust survivors found in which “epigenetic” improvements — not the genes themselves, yet how they are turned on in addition to also off by additional molecules — could be passed down to survivors’ children in addition to also change their stress hormones.

“yet I have not put all my eggs inside genetic basket,” she said.

What’s inside basket?

Past studies on twins with PTSD suggested in which DNA played a major role inside disorder, yet those studies didn’t look at the genes themselves, Koenen said. in which’s where This kind of study comes in.
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with This kind of study, a consortium of researchers combined data through 11 studies into 1 pool to explore genetic risk for PTSD among more than 20,000 people. They also compared in which risk with additional psychiatric conditions in addition to also found, for example, a strong overlap between PTSD- in addition to also schizophrenia-associated genes.

While the vast majority of the people inside study had experienced trauma, only a quarter of them had been diagnosed with PTSD.

Using common genetic markers, the study found evidence of a genetic risk for PTSD, yet Koenen said she might need an even bigger group of people to identify the specific genes involved.

Her goal for the next study can be to include up to 75,000 people, with roughly a third carrying a diagnosis of PTSD.

“Were looking at millions of places along the genome,” Koenen said. “You need a lot of people” to see a clear signal for individual genes.

One key finding was a 29% heritability of PTSD for European-American women inside study. In additional words, three out of 10 PTSD diagnoses among these women exposed to trauma could be linked to common genetic variants. Women are known to be twice as likely as men to develop PTSD after a traumatic event.
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yet for white men in addition to also all African-Americans, the researchers were unable to tease out statistically significant results through their DNA — even though African-Americans comprised roughly half of the people inside study. This kind of may be because prior research has largely focused on white populations, the authors noted.

The difference between men in addition to also women in This kind of study may not be entirely explained by gender, Koenen said.

Many men inside study, yet very few women, came through the military — where service members may have experienced very different types of trauma through the general population, she said.

“can be the item a military-civilian difference, or can be the item a male-female difference?” Koenen asked.

Searching for answers on PTSD

By unraveling the link between genetics in addition to also mental illness, researchers expect to find brand new ways to diagnose, prevent in addition to also treat disorders like PTSD, Koenen said.

While the research can be still in its early stages, Koenen in addition to also her colleagues — some of whom hold patents in addition to also have ties to pharmaceutical companies — expect in which they might one day identify brand new targets for drug development. Because of the potential genetic overlap with additional psychiatric conditions, like schizophrenia, researchers are also on the lookout for shared pathways.

They also expect to find molecules in which might allow doctors to measure in addition to also track the progress of mental illness. These molecules are known as biomarkers.

“Everybody has been searching for biomarkers for PTSD, yet maybe the inability to find 1 biomarker can be because you have to stratify people according to their genetics,” said Yehuda.

yet looking at genetic risk has not been without some controversy, she said.

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“People criticized me like you can’t imagine,” Yehuda said. “The minute you throw in in which the item’s not about the trauma, (people worry in which) we’re jeopardizing veterans’ benefits, torts cases, victims’ rights — the item has to be about the event.”

“You couldn’t stay on in which perch too long,” she added. “There’s too many individual differences in responses (to trauma).”

For example, some studies have linked PTSD to the size of different parts of the brain. additional studies have looked at different proteins in addition to also stress hormones. yet not all studies find the same results, in addition to also researchers have not been able to fully explain the mix of findings.

“Maybe genetics can help us clean in which up a bit,” said Yehuda.

However, some experts caution in which focusing too much on common genetic variants may not contain the therapeutic payoff these researchers are hoping for.

“There can be This kind of open-ended question, ‘can be the item therapeutically meaningful to target (these variants)?’ ” said Jeremy Willsey, a geneticist at University of California, San Francisco who studies the link between genetics in addition to also additional neuropsychiatric disorders, like autism. Willsey was not involved inside study.
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Willsey’s research at UCSF focuses instead on rare genes, not common ones. While common genes as a group may have a greater impact on our health, he said, some researchers suspect in which each rare variant holds more weight by itself.

“Rare variants are not going to be present in every patient, yet the effect can be going to be higher,” he said, adding in which neither set of genes tells the whole story by itself.

“At the end of the day … what can be truly necessary can be a complete picture of both common in addition to also rare variants in order in which we can have an integrated understanding of the biology.”

Looking forward

In 2012, Presley wrote a memoir titled “Thirty Days with My Father” about a series of interviews she conducted with her veteran father in order to come to terms with their pasts.
Delmer Presley served a year in Vietnam in addition to also returned with combat stress in which affected his daughter.

After she published the book, responses through veterans’ families came pouring in.

“the item was such a huge epiphany to me in which I wasn’t alone,” Presley said. “There has been such a focus on veterans in addition to also PTSD inside media, which can be great, yet somehow the missing piece can be how in which PTSD also affects a person’s family.”

Presley said in which, through her difficult experiences, there have been additional positives. As a schoolteacher, for example, she said in which her “hypersensitivity” has allowed her to read her students in addition to also be a more effective educator.

“the item was like I was born with in which,” she said. “I have worked in some of the most challenging schools in Georgia, in addition to also I do not have classroom management problems because of my ability to read situations before they happen. in which’s been a huge positive in which has come out of This kind of.”

Harvard’s Koenen also comes through a military family. Her grandfather served in World War II, in addition to also her father served in Vietnam. Her cousin entered the military right out of high school in addition to also was sent to Iraq, where he developed PTSD.

“He never thought he’d be deployed,” Koenen said. “the item truly changed the course of his life.”

yet Koenen’s cousin has found some expect in her research, she said.

“the item just makes him feel truly encouraged in which perhaps future generations of soldiers in addition to also veterans won’t have to suffer as much as he has,” she said.

PTSD risk may be passed down through our DNA

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