NEW YORK (Reuters Health) – A post-mortem analysis of brain tissue from people diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) revealed that two genes in the prefrontal cortex, ELFN1 and UBA7, play key roles in the condition, researchers say.
“ELFN1 is thought to play a role in a set of inhibitory (GABA-releasing) nerve cells that tune brain activity and help parts of the brain communicate effectively with each other. These cell types also play a role in stress response and in anxiety,” Dr. John Krystal of Yale School of Medicine in New Haven, told Reuters Health by email. UBA7 is expressed by activated microglia.
“The expression levels of both ELFN1 and UBA7 were decreased in PTSD,” he said, “raising the possibility of cortical disinhibition and compromise of microglial-related immune functions and their role in maintaining and disrupting synaptic connections.”
“However, we think it is unlikely that either gene causes PTSD on its own,” he noted. “We now know that these genes are associated with PTSD but we do not know how they are associated with PTSD.”
“Our study also revealed that PTSD molecular changes manifest differently between men and women,” added lead author Dr. Matthew Girgenti, also of Yale. “This suggests that a one-size-fits-all approach to treatment may not be appropriate. Future drug development may be needed to identify therapeutics specific for each sex.”
As reported in Nature Neuroscience, the researchers conducted differential gene expression and network analyses of four prefrontal cortex sub