PTSD, alcohol abuse go hand-in-hand, but women and men exhibit symptoms in a different way: Study – sex and relationships


Through intricate experiments designed to account for sex-specific differences, scientists have collaborated to zero in on sure changes in the mind that can be responsible for driving alcohol abuse among people with post-traumatic stress disorder, or PTSD. In studies with rodents, researchers found that women and men exhibit their own distinct symptoms and mind features of PTSD and alcohol use disorder. Such differences aren’t normally accounted for in laboratory-based studies yet could lead to more successful clinical treatments. The findings, published in Molecular Psychiatry, also present a new mannequin for identifying biomarkers that may indicate a person with PTSD is much more likely to develop alcohol use disorder.

“Having PTSD significantly increases the risk of developing alcohol use disorder, as individuals use alcohol to deal with stress and anxiety. Yet the underlying biology of comorbid disorders is normally not mannered understood,” says Dean Kirson, PhD, a postdoctoral fellow in neurophysiology in the lab of Professor Marisa Roberto, PhD, and a co-lead writer with Michael Steinman, PhD. “We are hoping our new knowledge of sex-specific changes in the mind will help propel the development of more targeted treatments.”

Approximately 7 per cent to 8 per cent of the country’s population will have PTSD someday in their life, according to the U.S. Branch of Veterans Matters. Causes include combat exposure, physical abuse, an accident or other forms of trauma. Alcohol abuse disorder could also be common, affecting some 15 million people in america. Those with stress and anxiety disorders such as PTSD aren’t only much more likely to abuse alcohol, but also have increased alcohol withdrawal symptoms and relapse risk. “The general public realize or will realize someone struggling with one or either one of these disorders and may try to help them. Then again, there are very few effective treatments currently,” Roberto says. “Both are complex disorders that have an effect on similar mind circuitry. My lab has been studying addiction and stress one after the other, so here we teamed up with the Zorrilla lab to apply a novel translationally-relevant behavioural mannequin to inspect what changes arise when these disorders are comorbid.”

The joint study between Roberto and Eric Zorrilla, PhD–who are co-senior authors–examined behaviour, sleep patterns, inflammatory immune responses and levels of a neurotransmitter referred to as GABA (short for gamma-Aminobutyric acid), which lowers anxiety and increases feelings of relaxation and is a common feature of alcohol dependence. For both female and male rats, traumatic stress and alcohol exacerbated other behaviours common in PTSD, such as social avoidance startle reactions and defensive behaviour. Those who were identified as “drinking-vulnerable” prior to trauma most strongly showed avoidance of trauma-reminiscent places.

Then again, the scientists famous key differences in how women and men behave following trauma and saw markedly different patterns of GABA signalling. As an example, males showed increased GABA receptor operate, while females showed increased GABA release. “This can be important because there is growing awareness that medicines could potentially have different levels of effectiveness in female and male patients and understanding the biology that explains why these differences exist could reinforce outcomes,” Steinman says.

The team also found that males exhibited an immune-based biomarker–small proteins referred to as cytokines, which are secreted by immune cells–that decided vulnerability to an alcohol use disorder. The females did not. “We identified profiles of particular cytokines, many not in the past linked to emphasize behaviours, that strongly related to naughty drinking outcomes,” says Zorilla, associate professor in the Branch of Molecular Medicine. “These is also important clinically or even mechanistically, but they were unique to males, so we have work ahead of us to find similar biomarkers for females.” The Roberto and Zorrilla labs plan to conduct extra research into the mechanisms in the back of the organic changes they observed and test which mind systems will also be targeted to treat both PTSD and alcohol abuse. “We also plan to further investigate the role of the immune system in these disorders,” Roberto says. “These distinct biomarkers may aid in targeted remedy.”

(This story has been published from a wire agency feed without modifications to the text. Only the headline has been changed.)

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