JAN 28, 2020 4:00 PM PST

Protein complex discovered as first biomarker of PTSD

WRITTEN BY: Tara Fernandez

 

Researchers at the Centre for Addiction and Mental Health (CAMH) and the Canadian Institutes of Health Research (CIHR) have identified a potential diagnostic biomarker; a protein complex found to be elevated amongst individuals suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).

Marked by crippling anxiety, nightmares and looping memories of the traumatic event, there are extremely few diagnostic or treatment options that work. Moreover, the prevalence of PTSD in the community is on the rise. Among U.S. military personnel alone, an estimated 2 percent have the condition after facing life-threatening, combat-related experiences. Likewise, victims of violence, assault, and natural disasters also contend with PTSD’s debilitating symptoms.

 

 

Managing PTSD usually involves a combination of cognitive-behavioral psychotherapy and medications, although even with these interventions, patient outcomes are disappointing.

In a breakthrough finding, the authors of the study, published in the Journal of Clinical Investigation, discovered that the Glucocorticoid Receptor-FKBP51 (GR-FKBP51) protein complex was substantially elevated in individuals with symptoms of PTSD. These differential levels could serve as a potential diagnostic biomarker.

The team’s lead, Professor Fang Liu from the University of Toronto said, “We believe this protein complex normally increases after severe stress, but in most cases, levels soon go back to baseline levels.”

“However, in those who develop PTSD, the protein complex remains persistently elevated, and so this could be a blood-based biomarker for PTSD as well as being a target for pharmacological treatment.”

On another promising note, the investigators tested a possible PTSD therapeutic in a mouse model of PTSD: an interfering peptide that blocks the effects of GR-FKBP51. By disrupting and shielding against the physiological and cognitive effects of excessive GR-FKBP51, this peptide blocker could even be applied as a preventative therapy in the wake of serious, traumatic events.

The next steps for the authors include further validation of their findings before kicking off clinical trials amongst survivors of PTSD.

 

 

Sources: ZME Science, The Journal of Clinical Investigation.

About the Author
  • Tara Fernandez has a PhD in Cell Biology and has spent over a decade uncovering the molecular basis of diseases ranging from skin cancer to obesity and diabetes. She currently works on developing and marketing disruptive new technologies in the biotechnology industry. Her areas of interest include innovation in molecular diagnostics, cell therapies, and immunology. She actively participates in various science communication and public engagement initiatives to promote STEM in the community.
You May Also Like
AUG 13, 2019
Health & Medicine
AUG 13, 2019
Blood-Brain Barrier Impairment and Its Role in Alzheimer's Disease
In healthy people, the blood-brain barrier (BBB), which is fromed by brain endothelial cells, strictly controls the entrance of harmful materials into...
NOV 02, 2019
Clinical & Molecular DX
NOV 02, 2019
Forecasting Chronic Pain
Chronic pain comes in many forms. Over half of those suffering from chronic pain, say they experience life-altering levels of pain on a daily basis. Many s...
DEC 22, 2019
Clinical & Molecular DX
DEC 22, 2019
Can Google Health's AI interpret X-rays as well as radiologists?
Patients presenting with severe coughs, chest pain or suspected infections are more than likely to be sent for a chest X-ray -- the most commonly taken med...
FEB 06, 2020
Clinical & Molecular DX
FEB 06, 2020
Concussion detector could pick up concussions in athletes, right from the sidelines
Concussions are brain traumas caused by a blow to the head or a whiplash injury. The risk of concussions are greatly heightened in athletes playing high co...
FEB 15, 2020
Clinical & Molecular DX
FEB 15, 2020
FDA nod for AI-powered technology to detect strokes
The US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has provided clearance for a novel technology that uses artificial intelligence (AI) to detect strokes. The platf...
FEB 19, 2020
Immunology
FEB 19, 2020
Testing the Immune Response to Ovarian Cancer Treatment
There is a new diagnostic test for the deadliest form of gynecological cancer – ovarian cancer. Better tests mean better diagnostics, and better diag...
Loading Comments...