Biomarkers of post-traumatic stress disorder from emotional trauma : A systematic review

Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) is a debilitating condition that can develop after traumatic events or stressors. These extreme threats or horrific stressors can be short- or long-lasting, and can be physical (e.g., injury) or emotional (e.g., witnessing a catastrophic event). Identifying reliable PTSD biomarkers could facilitate more accurate diagnosis of the disorder, and distinguish those at increased risk for PTSD from those who are resilient. Identifying biomarkers has been challenging because PTSD is a heterogeneous diagnosis with multifactorial etiology and variable, combined symptoms. Another difficulty is determining whether a marker is PTSD-specific or related to its common psychiatric comorbidities.

The aim of this systematic review was to provide an overview of PTSD-associated biomarkers in the adult civilian population, with an emphasis on those who have experienced emotional trauma, rather than physical or war-specific trauma.

A total of six papers was identified as publications of interest. The research reviewed herein suggests that among those who have experienced emotional trauma, PTSD or PTSD symptoms may be triggered through the same neurobiological pathways activated by physical trauma, including functional or structural alterations of the hippocampus and prefrontal cortex, epigenetic modifications, and HPA axis dysfunction. Thus, physical and emotional trauma may share potential biomarkers for diagnosing PTSD and predicting risk or resilience.

Walter Paganin, Sabrina Signorini | 2023
In: European Journal of Trauma & Dissociation ; ISSN: 2468-7499 | 7 | 2 | june | 100328
Adults, Cortisol, Diagnosis, Emotional States, Memory, Neurobiology, Posttraumatic Stress Disorder, Psychotrauma, PTSD (en), Systematic Review, Traumatic events