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The Root Cause of Post-traumatic and Developmental Stress Disorder

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Technical Report,01 Mar 2012,28 Feb 2013

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Texas A and M Health Science Center Temple United States

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Our overarching scientific hypothesis holds that serotonergic influences on brain development driven by genetics and early experience induce a variation of normal brain anatomy that makes the brain highly susceptible to the effects of severe stress. We are studying this question using both clinical and basic approaches. New findings from our lab funded by VA support the existence of an anatomical phenotype conferring susceptibility to depression, and the current work seeks to extend these findings to PTSD. After TATRC review in January of 2011, a revised research plan was developed to include a prepost-deployment study at Fort Hood and anatomical studies of PTSD in collaboration with NIMH, Yale and USUHS. Based on input from contracting relating to the maturation date of funds, the budget and revised proposal was resubmitted in December and the funds were released for use in June, 2012. Eight new Fort Hood staff were hired and certified to perform the SCID and Columbia suicide interviews. Post-mortem brain tissue from 30 PTSD, 30 MDD and 30 controls are being used to investigate genomics and epigenetics in several areas of the cortex and thalamus. Golgi methods for analysis of prefrontal anatomy and stereological studies of the frontal cortex in Nissl sections are in progress. Work on both clinical and preclinical studies continues uninterrupted into the second phase of funding.

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