Past Child Abuse and Genes could result in PTSD Risk for Adults
A traumatic event is much more likely to result in posttraumatic stress disorder in adults who experienced trauma in childhood, but scientists have found that certain gene variations raise risk considerably if the childhood trauma involved physical or sexual abuse.
Akinso: A traumatic event is much more likely to result in posttraumatic stress disorder in adults who experienced trauma in childhood, but scientists have found that certain gene variations raise risk considerably if the childhood trauma involved physical or sexual abuse.
Insel: Scientists who were involved in this study from Emory University in Atlanta tried to understand how much of PTSD is genetic and how much of it is due to the environment.
Akinso: Dr. Thomas Insel is the Director of the National Institute of Mental Health.
Insel: Now obviously because we call it posttraumatic stress disorder there's some environmental factor here, because you develop this after traumatic stress. But not everybody develops PTSD after a traumatic stress and so the question that these investigators were asking was-why does some people develop PTSD and others who may have the same or either a greater amount of stress don't seem to show the consequence of PTSD afterwards.
Akinso: The NIMH study suggests that early-life abuse can result in particularly potent changes to the stress response system as it develops-depending partly on whether or not the variations are present in the gene. Dr. Insel says the findings can help researchers learn which prevention and treatment strategies are likely to work best for each person.
Insel: This is a finding that needs to be replicated. If replicated it would become one of many factors that we try to put together as a kind of biosignature. That would say-if we know about these 5, 10, maybe 20 genetic variations that increase the risk for PTSD in someone who has a particular kind of personal history that those are the people that we might really want focus on to try to preempt PTSD after something like military service or after a bad car accident or after a traumatic event of any kind in adulthood.
Akinso: Dr. Insel believes that by untangling the complex interactions between genetic variations and environmental factors then scientists could possibly predict more accurately who's at risk of disorders like PTSD. This is Wally Akinso at the National Institutes of Health Bethesda, Maryland.
About This Audio Report
Reporter: Wally Akinso
Sound Bite: Dr. Thomas Insel, Director of the National Institute of Mental Health
Topic: Posttraumatic Stress Disorder