Navigation Links
Rwandan genocide survivors provide new insights into resilience and PTSD

Philadelphia, PA, 25 February 2010 - The 1994 genocide in Rwanda resulted in the mass killing of up to one million people over the course of about 100 days. Although the exact death toll is unknown, experts estimate that as much as 20% of the country's entire population was murdered. There can be no doubt or surprise then that some of the survivors developed posttraumatic stress disorder, or PTSD, an anxiety disorder that can develop after witnessing or experiencing a traumatizing event, such as abuse, war, or natural disaster.

However, even under stress as extreme as genocide, not all individuals develop PTSD. Why is it that some do and some don't? A new study published in Biological Psychiatry, by Elsevier was designed to address that question.

The clues may come from molecular genetics. Scientists already know that, in general, the more traumatic events a person experiences, called 'traumatic load', the higher their likelihood of developing PTSD. In this new study, Iris-Tatjana Kolassa and her colleagues show that genetic factors influence this relationship.

They studied 424 Rwandan Genocide survivors, some with and some without PTSD. As expected, they found that those survivors with higher traumatic load had a higher prevalence of lifetime PTSD, a dose-response relationship. But importantly, they also found that the Val158Met polymorphism of the gene encoding the enzyme catechol-O-methyltransferase (COMT) plays a role in this relationship.

Individuals homozygous for the Met allele of this COMT polymorphism have substantially lower activity of this enzyme. Lower COMT activity would be expected to produce higher levels of norepinephrine and dopamine, neurotransmitters that are released during stress. Rwandan survivors with at least one Val allele in this gene showed the typical dose-response relationship between trauma severity and PTSD risk, but those homozygous for the Met allele exhibited a high risk for PTSD independently of the severity of traumatic load.

In other words, people who, due to their genotype, were more likely to inactivate the stress neurotransmitters were somewhat protected from developing stress-related problems relative to people who were less able to metabolize the transmitters.

Dr. John Krystal, Editor of Biological Psychiatry commented: "We hope that molecular genetics will help us to identify those who are most resilient so that we can learn about ways that people cope with stress at a psychological, behavioral, and biological level. We also would like a biological test to help us to identify people who are most vulnerable to the negative effects of stress so that we could target supportive services to these people." This study is another step in that direction.

Dr. Iris-Tatjana Kolassa cautions that many technical and clinical questions remain open in attempting to develop molecular genetic tests that predict patterns of stress response. But she acknowledged that human genetics could someday play a role in the prevention and treatment of PTSD.


Contact: Maureen Hunter

Related medicine news :

1. Depression common among Rwandan youth who head households
2. Experiences of rape unique to Rwandan women survivors of genocide
3. mtvU Unleashes Month OF Exclusive Album Leaks & Music Video Premieres in Continued Fight Against Darfur Genocide
4. Agahozo-Shalom Youth Village in Rwanda Dedicated 15 Years After Genocide to Provide Healing Community to African Orphans
5. Rwanda Genocide 100-Day Commemoration Culminates With Kigali Festival With Andrew Palau
6. New male sling procedure helps prostate cancer survivors who suffer from urinary incontinence
7. New York City Cancer Patients, Survivors and Care Givers Encouraged to Keep Going(R)
8. Chemotherapy may be culprit for fatigue in breast cancer survivors
9. Long-Term Fatigue Plagues Cancer Survivors
10. ASTRO, Wellness Community South Bay Cities Join to Promote Cancer Survivorship
11. Breast cancer survivors optimistic, yet lack critical information on reducing recurrence
Post Your Comments:
(Date:11/27/2015)... Angeles, CA (PRWEB) , ... November 27, 2015 , ... ... conversation at the recent 2015 American Dental Association meeting in Washington D.C. revolved around ... help protect a patient’s overall health. The talk stressed the link between periodontal disease ...
(Date:11/27/2015)... ... 27, 2015 , ... An inventor, from Hopkinsville, Ky., thought ... at home, so he invented the patent-pending ELECTRONIC M.D. , The ELECTRONIC M.D. ... doing so, it could help to prevent potential overdose situations. As a result, ...
(Date:11/27/2015)... ... November 27, 2015 , ... MPWH, the No.1 Herpes-only dating community in the world, revealed ... 1-1 ). More than 3.7 billion people under the age of 50 – or ... to WHO's first global estimates of HSV-1 infection . , "The data shocks us ...
(Date:11/27/2015)... ... November 27, 2015 , ... Keeping ... platform for mental health and wellness consultation, has collaborated with a leading web-based ... the knowledge gap experienced by parents and bring advice from parenting experts within ...
(Date:11/27/2015)... ... November 27, 2015 , ... Indosoft ... announces the incorporation of Asterisk 11 LTS (Long Term Support) into its Q-Suite ... LTS brings Q-Suite 5.10 up-to-date with a version of Asterisk that will receive ...
Breaking Medicine News(10 mins):
(Date:11/26/2015)... India , November 26, 2015 ... --> adds ... Report" and "Investigation Report on China ... and 2021 forecasts data and information ... . ...
(Date:11/26/2015)... November 26, 2015 ... addition of the  "2016 Future Horizons ... Cell Surface Marker Testing Market: Supplier ... to their offering.  --> ... of the  "2016 Future Horizons and ...
(Date:11/25/2015)...  The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP), American ... March of Dimes cheered today,s signature into law ... of 2015 (S.799), which takes much-needed strides ... to drugs, such as opioids, and to improve ... organizations have worked together leading advocacy efforts for ...
Breaking Medicine Technology: