After examining two hundred marines whose blood samples were taken before and after deployment, researchers have identified two factors that fall under the influence of genetics and experience, specifically the regulation of the innate immune system and the regulation of interferon.
“What’s interesting is that molecular signatures of innate immunity and interferon signaling were identified both after developing PTSD as well as before developing PTSD,” explains Dewleen G. Baker, MRS-II principal investigator.
The research director with the Veteran Affairs Center of Excellence for Stress and Mental Health, and department of psychiatry professor at the University of California San Diego goes on to say, “The answer could be any number of factors ranging from a simple explanation of increased anticipatory stress prior to deployment or more complex scenarios where individuals may have a higher viral load. It’s a question for future studies.”
Christopher H. Woelk, specialized in bioinformatics at University of Southampton and assistant adjunct professor at UC San Diego School of Medicine, has a similar opinion when stating: “Since our causal (pre-deployment) and consequential (post-deployment) discoveries are based upon peripheral blood samples, these results suggest that identifying individuals at risk for PTSD development may be achievable through high-throughput profiling of molecular data.”
Even though the results are preliminary, they have strong implications for the treatment and even prevention of PTSD.