How certain genes are expressed may determine susceptibility for PTSD diagnosis

New findings in the peer-reviewed journal Cell Reports show how certain genes may help determine susceptibility to developing post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).

In the study, initiated by a team of investigators at McLean Hospital, the genetic data of close to 200,000 people were racked up as part of the Psychiatric Genomics Consortium-PTSD Group. Of the estimated 195,000 participants, 29,539 were previously diagnosed with having PTSD.

Using machine learning models, the genetic data were analyzed to identify any expression patterns of genes in the brain. Among the participants with PTSD, the study yielded two genes of interest: SNRNP35 and ZNF140.

The role of SNRNP35 expression in the brain is vital for managing stress, while ZNF140 is a potential influence on the immune response of the body. In the study, the lower expression of SNRNP35 in the brain and higher expression of ZNF140 in the blood was evident among the participants with PTSD.

“Our study provides a road map for follow-up studies to link PTSD risk with vulnerable populations and to develop and validate biological tests and ‘druggable targets’ for prevention and treatment,” said Nikolaos Daskalakis, co-author of the study.

Although Daskalakis and his colleagues’ findings uncovered new PTSD risk genes, further research is necessary to get a more comprehensive focus on the mechanisms behind the genes’ effects on PTSD susceptibility, as researchers inferred in their report.

Image courtesy of iStock
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