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Vulnerability to post-traumatic stress disorder runs in families, study shows
Date:12/19/2008

at a substantial portion of the coexistence can be explained on the basis of shared genes and not just environmental factors such as upbringing."

The researchers used statistical methods to assess heritabilities. One method was used to determine the genetic component of a disorder such as PTSD. Then, a separate analysis was used to see if different phenotypes shared genes. The results showed that a significant amount of genes are shared between PTSD and depression, PTSD and anxiety, and finally depression and anxiety.

Until now, Goenjian said, the only studies that have suggested such a heritability of PTSD have been twin studies.

"It's very hard to do family studies on PTSD because typically only single individuals, not whole families, are exposed to a particular trauma," he said. "In our study, we were able to avert this problem since all the subjects were exposed to the same severe trauma at the same time."

In fact, he said, the 200 participants all saw destroyed buildings throughout Gumri, 90 percent witnessed dead bodies left lying in the streets and 92 percent witnessed severely injured people.

The findings are promising for the next step in understanding the underlying biology of these disorders, which is locating the specific genes involved, Goenjian said.


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Contact: Mark Wheeler
mwheeler@mednet.ucla.edu
310-794-2265
University of California - Los Angeles
Source:Eurekalert

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