Groundbreaking New Test for PTSD Developed

A cutting-edge blood test discovered by Indiana University School of Medicine researchers could help more accurately diagnose soldiers and people experiencing post-traumatic stress (PTSD) disorder, and thereby provide more precise treatments.

A study led by psychiatry professor Alexander Niculescu, MD, PhD, and published in the SpringerNature journal Molecular Psychiatry, tracked more than 250 army veterans in over 600 visits at the Richard L. Roudebush VA Medical Center in Indianapolis to identify molecules in the blood that can help track stress intensity.

According to Niculescu’s findings, the blood test can accurately identify people who are at risk of stress disorders or are experiencing them severely.

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Dr Niculescu said: “PTSD is a disorder that affects a lot of veterans, especially those involved in combat. It’s also an underappreciated and underdiagnosed disorder among the civilian population.

“Countless people are underdiagnosed with stress disorders, which may manifest themselves by drinking more, other addictions, suicide or violence. Our research has broader relevance for not just veterans but the general public.”

The decade-long study looked at the expression of genes in the blood, starting with the entire genome, which has over 20,000 genes.

Over the course of multiple visits, researchers tested participants in both low- and high-stress states – their blood analyzed for detectable changes in expression of genes between those two different states that could serve as biological markers (biomarkers) for stress.

Researchers were able to narrow the study’s focus down to 285 individual biomarkers (related to 269 genes) that can objectively help diagnose patients with PTSD, as well as determine the severity of their stress and predict future hospitalizations.

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