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Genetic approaches for the study of PTSD: Advances and challenges.

ABSTRACT

Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) is a highly debilitating stress and anxiety-related disorder that occurs in response to specific trauma or abuse. Genetic risk factors may account for up to 30-40% of the heritability of PTSD. Understanding the gene pathways that are associated with PTSD, and how those genes interact with the fear and stress circuitry to mediate risk and resilience for PTSD will enable the development of targeted therapies to prevent the occurrence of or decrease the severity of this complex multi-gene disorder. This review will summarize recent research on genetic approaches to understanding PTSD risk and resilience in human populations, including candidate genes and their epigenetic modifications, genome-wide association studies and neural imaging genetics approaches. Despite challenges faced within this field of study such as inconsistent results and replications, genetic approaches still offer exciting opportunities for the identification and development of novel therapeutic targets and therapies in the future.