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New study links inflammation in those with PTSD to changes in microRNA
Date:4/24/2014

and inflammation in combat veterans of the Persian Gulf, Iraq and Afghanistan wars who are PTSD patients at the Dorn VA Medical Center. MicroRNA are small, noncoding RNA that can switch human genes on and off, effectively controlling gene expression. Some specific types of microRNA are known to regulate genes involved in inflammation, making them a kind of marker that can indicate when inflammation is present.

The microRNA role in PTSD has not been investigated previous to this study, which found that the PTSD patients had significant alterations in microRNA expression. The study analyzed 1163 microRNA and found that the expression of microRNA that regulate genes involved in inflammation were altered in PTSD patients. The alterations were found to be linked to heightened inflammation in these patients.

Dr. Mitzi Nagarkatti sums up the significance of this study as follows: "We are very excited about these results. Thus far, no one had looked at the role of microRNA in the blood of PTSD patients. Thus, our finding that the alterations in these small molecules are connected to higher inflammation seen in these patients is very interesting and helps establish the connection between war trauma and microRNA changes."

In addition to the alterations in microRNA expression, the study also found that PTSD patients had higher levels of inflammation caused by certain types of immune cells called T cells. These T cells produced higher levels of inflammatory mediators called cytokines, specifically interferon-gamma and interleukin-17. This finding was especially interesting because one of the inflammation-associated microRNAs, miR-125a, which specifically targets increased production of interferon-gamma, was found to have decreased expression in the PTSD patients studied. Overall, these results suggested that trauma may cause alterations in the expression of microRNA which promote inflammation in PTSD patients.

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Contact: Jeff Stensland
stenslan@mailbox.sc.edu
803-777-3686
University of South Carolina
Source:Eurekalert

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