News / Health

Scientists Developing Blood Test for Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder

Jessica Berman

There may some day be a blood test to determine whether someone suffers from Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder or is at risk for the psychiatric condition.  Experts say such a test could lead to a treatment for PTSD, which is often seen in soldiers and others who experience severe trauma.  

Veterans who have seen a lot of death and destruction in armed conflict, survivors of natural disasters, and rape victims often suffer from Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder or PTSD.  These invisible psychological wounds are marked by emotional arousal, severe anxiety and depression as well as flashbacks and nightmares of the horrific event.  Even with therapy and antidepressants, the disorder is difficult to treat.

Now, researchers at Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai in New York City have identified a blood marker that appears associated with PTSD.  

A pattern of gene activity involved in regulation of the stress hormone corticosterone was seen in the brain tissue of rats exposed to soiled cat litter for ten minutes.  Cats are a natural predator of rodents, which become fearful and anxious at the scent of feline waste.

The animals showed anxiety in a maze test and startled easily when exposed to loud noise.  

But some stressed-out rats were given corticosterone an hour after exposure to the cat scent, and researchers found that those rodents showed less arousal and anxiety compared to untreated rats one week after exposure to the litter.

Icahn neuroscientist Nikolaos Daskalakis says Swiss doctors noted that corticosterone had a calming effect in people who were given the hormone following automobile accidents.

“So, this was a serendipitous finding - that they observed that .. the ones who were under those treatments had lower chances to get psychiatric symptoms after," said Daskalakis.

Daskalakis says that finding may lead to the development of a test for PTSD risk. It would measure glucocorticoid receptor activity in the blood.  Those are genes that become activated in the presence of stress.  Like a key fitting into a lock, the hormone corticosterone, produced naturally by the body, connects to the receptor and has a calming effect.

In some rodents, and apparently in some people, the pathway appears to be defective, and this puts them at higher risk for PTSD.

“Hopefully we will end up having a treatment, yes.  But we need to do a lot of detailed biological studies in humans and in animals too to arrive there," said Daskalakis.

Daskalakis notes that Post-Traumatic Stress disorder not only affects the brain but the body’s regulation of the stress response.

An article on a potential blood test for PTSD is being published in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.  

 

You May Like

Video VOA Reporter Tours Devastated Peshawar School

Islamist militants wearing military uniforms and strapped with explosives attacked a military run school Tuesday in the northwestern Pakistani city of Peshawar. At least 141 people were killed in the horrific attack, most of them young students. More

Video Sudan School Becomes Target of Aerial Attacks

Dropout rate at an all-time high in South Kordofan state because many schools have been destroyed during 3-year civil war More

Tennessee Songbirds Fly Coop Long Before Tornadoes Arrive

Researchers say birds apparently alerted to danger by sounds at frequencies below range of human hearing More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
US: Response to Sony Hack Will Be Proportionali
X
Aru Pande
December 19, 2014 1:45 AM
The White House says President Barack Obama considers the cyberattack on Sony Corp. a serious national security matter and that the U.S. will counter with an "appropriate response." VOA correspondent Aru Pande reports.
Video

Video US: Response to Sony Hack Will Be Proportional

The White House says President Barack Obama considers the cyberattack on Sony Corp. a serious national security matter and that the U.S. will counter with an "appropriate response." VOA correspondent Aru Pande reports.
Video

Video Sudan School Becomes Target of Aerial Attacks

The school dropout rate is at an all-time high in Sudan's South Kordofan state because many schools have been destroyed during the three-year civil war between the government and SPLA-N rebel forces. Adam Bailes visited Sudan's Nuba Mountains' region and reports many children are simply too scared to go to school
Video

Video Nigerians Fleeing Boko Haram Languish in Camp Near Capital

In its five-year effort to impose Islamic law in northeastern Nigeria, the Boko Haram extremist group has killed thousands of people and forced hundreds of thousands to flee. Some of those who ran for their lives now live in squalor on the edges of the capital, Abuja. Chris Stein reports for VOA.
Video

Video Putin Says Russian Economy Will Emerge Stronger

Russian President Vladimir Putin has said his country's sinking economy will not only recover but also become stronger, despite falling oil prices and Western sanctions over Ukraine. VOA's Daniel Schearf reports.
Video

Video Detained Turkish Journalists Follow Teachings of US-Based Preacher

The Turkish government’s jailing of critical journalists has sparked international condemnation and is being seen as an effort to undermine the followers of an ailing Turkish preacher based in the United States. VOA religion reporter Jerome Socolovsky has more.
Video

Video ‘Anti-Islamization’ Marches Increase Tensions In Germany

Anti-immigrant rallies in Germany have been building in recent weeks, peaking Monday night in the city of Dresden where tens of thousands of people turned out to demonstrate against what they call the ‘Islamization’ of the West. Germany has offered asylum to more Syrian refugees than any other country, and this appears to have set off the protests. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
Video

Video Aceh Rebuilt Decade After Tsunami, But Scars Remain

On December 26, 2004 there was an earthquake in the Indian Ocean so powerful it caused the Earth’s axis to wobble a few centimeters. Onshore on the island of Sumatra, the resulting tsunami was devastating. A decade later, VOA Correspondent Steve Herman reports from Banda Aceh, Indonesia, where although there is little remaining evidence of the physical devastation, the psychological scars among survivors remain.
Video

Video Refugees Living in Kenya Long for Peace in the Home Countries

Kenya is host to numerous refugees seeking safe haven from conflict. Immigrants from Somalia face challenges in their new lives in Kenya. Ahead of International Migrants Day (December 18) Lenny Ruvaga has more for VOA News from the Kenyan capital.

All About America

AppleAndroid