Neurotransmitter and neurotrophic biomarkers in combat-related posttraumatic stress disorder

Authored by: Gordana Nedic Erjavec , Matea Nikolac Perkovic , Dubravka Svob Strac , Lucija Tudor , Nela Pivac

The Routledge International Handbook of Military Psychology and Mental Health

Print publication date:  December  2019
Online publication date:  December  2019

Print ISBN: 9780367237066
eBook ISBN: 9780429281266
Adobe ISBN:


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Posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) is a trauma- and stressor-related disorder, frequent in modern society in civilians as well as in soldiers. It develops as a consequence of exposure to a traumatic event(s), usually combat in military personnel, but only in a portion of vulnerable soldiers. The biggest enigma and challenge in PTSD research is to detect validated and reliable biomarkers, indicators of vulnerability (risk factors) or resilience to develop PTSD. This issue is especially important in the military, since there is still an unfulfilled goal to find biomarkers that would predict PTSD development and might also foresee the behaviour and responses in soldiers under combat stress. The biological underpinning of PTSD is still not completely clear, but changes in the neurotransmitter (noradrenergic, dopaminergic, serotonergic) and neurotrophic (brain derived neurotrophic factor) systems, the presence of the risk alleles/genotypes of various genes related to different components of these systems and many other factors and their interactions all contribute to development of PTSD. This review describes selected peripheral, mostly blood-based, neurotransmitter and neurotrophic biomarkers related to PTSD.

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