New York: People who carry two specific genes are at greater risk of developing post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), shows new research, suggesting that even heredity influences a person's risk of developing the debilitating mental disorder.
The two genes called COMT and TPH-2 play important roles in brain function.
"We found a significant association between variants of COMT and TPH-2 with PTSD symptoms, suggesting that these genes contribute to the onset and persistence of the disorder," said lead author Armen Goenjian, a researcher at University of California, Los Angeles.
Our results indicate that people who carry these genetic variants may be at higher risk of developing PTSD, Goenjian added.
The findings could provide a biological basis for diagnosing and treating PTSD more effectively in the future.
Many people suffer with PTSD after surviving a life-threatening ordeal like war, rape or a natural disaster.
But not everyone who experiences trauma suffers from PTSD.
For the study, the researchers combed the DNA of 200 individuals for genetic clues to psychiatric vulnerability.
The blood samples were collected from families in northern Armenia.
In 1988, a 6.8 magnitude earthquake devastated the country, killing more than 25,000 Armenians, two-thirds of them children.
"Our findings may also help scientists uncover more refined treatments, such as gene therapy or new drugs that regulate the chemicals associated with PTSD symptoms," Goenjian stressed.
The study appeared in the Journal of Affective Disorders.