Stem cell-derived neurons from combat veterans with post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) react differently to a stress hormone than those from veterans without PTSD, a finding that could provide insights into how genetics can make someone more susceptible to developing PTSD following trauma exposure.

The study, published October 20 in Nature Neuroscience, is the first to use induced pluripotent stem cell models to study PTSD. It was conducted by a team of scientists from the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai, the James J. Peters Veterans Affairs Medical Center, the Yale School of Medicine and The New York Stem Cell Foundation Research Institute (NYSCF).

Post-traumatic stress disorder can develop following severe trauma and is an enormous public health problem for both veterans and civilians. However, the extent to which genetic and environmental factors contribute to individual clinical outcomes remains unknown. To bridge this information gap, the research team studied a cohort of 39 combat veterans with and without PTSD who were recruited from the James J Peters Veterans Affairs Medical Center in the Bronx. Veterans underwent skin biopsies and their skin cells were reprogrammed into induced pluripotent stem cells.

Reference:

Seah, C., Breen, M.S., Rusielewicz, T. et al. Modeling gene × environment interactions in PTSD using human neurons reveals diagnosis-specific glucocorticoid-induced gene expression. Nat Neurosci (2022). https://doi.org/10.1038/s41593-022-01161-y

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