Magazine article National Association of School Psychologists. Communique

Genetic Contributors Ostensibly Implicated in PTSD

Magazine article National Association of School Psychologists. Communique

Genetic Contributors Ostensibly Implicated in PTSD

Article excerpt

Genetic Contributors Ostensibly Implicated in PTSD

Summarized by Larry S. Solanch, PhD, Georgia Southern University

This article summarizes a recent review (Broekman, O Iff, 8c Boer, 2007) of the clinical and experimental literature examining polygenetic factors presumably implicated directly or indirectly in posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD; i.e., factors involving several different genes which interact or otherwise result in the onset of this disorder).

Research investigatingPTSD heritability is characteristically assigned to one of three major classes, based on the corresponding research paradigm. One such paradigm, linkage research, encompasses animal and human investigations which sample random areas of entire genomes, and focuses rather exclusively on identifying monogenetic (i.e., single-gene-based) disorders. Another promising avenue of molecular research is known as association research. Its goal is essentially that of discovering relatively small-magnitude effects of previously identified genetic markers, which it accomplishes by establishing connections between or among polymorphisms (in other words, variant gene substructures acting in conjunction with one another) and endophenotypes (that is, specialized biomarkers linked to observable psychiatric traits or characteristics). The third and final category isthat ofmicroarrayresearch, a paradigm used to examine gene expression by assaying known as RNA or cDNA chips (Le., fragments of genetic material, such as tissue samples taken from well-defined microscopic brain regions or nuclei).

Pursuant to a comprehensive search of several literature databases, Broekman et al. (2007) critically examined the paucity of available molecular genetic evidence bearing on each of eight major candidate gene systems thought to influence the expression of PTSD symptoms. Specifically, the authors focused on hypothesized roles of the serotonin transporter (5-HTT), dopamine receptor (DRD2) and transporter (DAT), glucocorticoid regulator (GR), gamma amino butyric acid or GABA receptor (GABRB), apolipoprotein (APOE2), brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF) , and neuropeptide Y (NPY) gene systems.

Although extensive investigations have been conducted since the turn of this century focusing on the genetic and neuro biological underpinnings of such mental health disorders as depression, such is not the case with PTSD. In fact, in terms of the number of investigations focusing on other psychiatric disorders, molecular genetic research on PTSD is comparatively rare. Furthermore, results of PTSD genetic research currently extant are, in general, essentially inconclusive, with one possible exception: namely, investigations of the possible hereditary effects of candidate genes associated with 5-HTT transport. …

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