Veteranclaims’s Blog

March 2, 2011

Pituitary Hormone Demonstrates Sex-Specific Association with PTSD

Full article at: Hormone Demonstrates Sex-Specific Association With PTSD

Deborah Brauser

March 2, 2011 — “An increase in pituitary adenylate cyclase–activating polypeptide (PACAP) blood levels in response to stress may indicate a vulnerability to posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) in women, new research suggests.

In a study of 64 civilian participants with significant exposure to violence and physical and sexual abuse, investigators found that women with high levels of PACAP had PTSD symptom scores that were 5 times greater than those in women with lower levels. This association was not found in the men.

In addition, a variation in the gene for the PACAP receptor (PAC1) was also linked to risk for PTSD development in women.

“These results give us a new window into the biology of PTSD,” lead study author Kerry Ressler, MD, PhD, associate professor of psychiatry and behavioral sciences at Emory University School of Medicine in Atlanta, Georgia, and investigator at the Howard Hughes Medical Institute in Bethesda, Maryland, told Medscape Medical News.

“Both the PACAP peptide, or hormone, and a polymorphism in the receptor gene are associated with PTSD in women only, which was quite surprising to us. The findings suggest that men and women may arrive at PTSD by different biological pathways, possibly due to changes in the ability to respond to estrogen,” said Dr. Ressler.”

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