A new study released by Geisinger Health System researchers and appearing in the journal Neuropsychiatric Disease and Treatment reconfirms specific genetic risks associated with post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and hopes to identify better screening and treatment options for the condition.

Led by Joseph Boscarino, PhD, MPH, senior investigator for the Geisinger Center for Health Research, the study titled “Higher FKBP5, COMT, CHRNA5, and CRHR1 allele burdens are associated with PTSD and interact with trauma exposure: implications for neuropsychiatric research and treatment,” finds that individuals with a certain set of “at-risk” genes were at seven times higher risk for lifetime PTSD than those without these genetic variants. Other authors on the study are Porat Erlich, PhD, MPH; Stuart Hoffman, DO; and Xiaopeng Zhang, MD, PhD; all of Geisinger Health System.

“We found that individuals with these ‘at-risk’ genetic variants were more likely to develop PTSD, especially those that had higher exposure to traumatic events,” said Boscarino. "Those without these four genetic variants appeared to be highly resilient to PTSD, regardless of trauma exposure history."

Boscarino adds that genetic screening individuals for these genetic factors in the future may lead to better post-trauma treatments and genetic counseling related to career options in the military or in the uniformed civil services, such as police work or firefighting.

“More can and should be done to effectively identify and treat PTSD,” said Boscarino. “We believe our research has the potential to improve the lives of thousands of people who suffer from this debilitating condition.” Further research is planned.

Source: Geisinger Health System