The Molecular Biology of Susceptibility to Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder: Highlights of Epigenetics and Epigenomics

G.I. Al Jowf, C. Snijders, B.P.F. Rutten, L. de Nijs*, L.M.T. Eijssen*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journal(Systematic) Review article peer-review

6 Citations (Web of Science)

Abstract

Exposure to trauma is one of the most important and prevalent risk factors for mental and physical ill-health. Excessive or prolonged stress exposure increases the risk of a wide variety of mental and physical symptoms. However, people differ strikingly in their susceptibility to develop signs and symptoms of mental illness after traumatic stress. Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) is a debilitating disorder affecting approximately 8% of the world's population during their lifetime, and typically develops after exposure to a traumatic event. Despite that exposure to potentially traumatizing events occurs in a large proportion of the general population, about 80-90% of trauma-exposed individuals do not develop PTSD, suggesting an inter-individual difference in vulnerability to PTSD. While the biological mechanisms underlying this differential susceptibility are unknown, epigenetic changes have been proposed to underlie the relationship between exposure to traumatic stress and the susceptibility to develop PTSD. Epigenetic mechanisms refer to environmentally sensitive modifications to DNA and RNA molecules that regulate gene transcription without altering the genetic sequence itself. In this review, we provide an overview of various molecular biological, biochemical and physiological alterations in PTSD, focusing on changes at the genomic and epigenomic level. Finally, we will discuss how current knowledge may aid us in early detection and improved management of PTSD patients.</p>
Original languageEnglish
Article number10743
Number of pages21
JournalInternational Journal of Molecular Sciences
Volume22
Issue number19
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 1 Oct 2021

Keywords

  • epigenetics
  • DNA methylation
  • PTSD
  • traumatic stress
  • neurobiology
  • trauma
  • resilience
  • BENZODIAZEPINE-RECEPTOR-BINDING
  • INFRALIMBIC PREFRONTAL CORTEX
  • SEROTONIN TRANSPORTER
  • DNA METHYLATION
  • GENE-EXPRESSION
  • PTSD SYMPTOMS
  • NORADRENERGIC MECHANISMS
  • PSYCHIATRIC-DISORDERS
  • HISTONE DEACETYLASES
  • NEUROTROPHIC FACTOR

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