Hormone May Increase PTSD Susceptibility

By Staff Writer

Higher levels of a certain hormone may indicate an increased risk of suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) after experiencing a troubling event, says a group of researchers from Emory University.

They found that a hormone called pituitary adenylate cyclase-activating polypeptide, or PACAP, may be implicated with PTSD risk. The hormone was already known to play a major role in the central nervous system and sensitivity to pain in addition to metabolic function, immune health and blood pressure.

For the study, the researchers had 64 individuals who had experienced a traumatic event undergo tests for PTSD. These test involved things like distinguishing between facial expressions of fear and safety and of how easily the participants were startled.

They found that women who had the highest scores on their PTSD tests also had the highest levels of PACAP. However, there was no association noted in men.

The findings could give doctors a powerful tool for diagnosing PTSD, the researchers said. Additionally, pointing to a genetic cause of the condition could help future investigators find a cure for PTSD.