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U-M study sheds light on the biological roots of post-traumatic stress disorder

University of Michigan researchers say they have identified what appears to be a crucial step in the chain of biological events leading to post-traumatic stress disorder.

Their findings support the idea that exposure to a traumatic event can trigger genetic changes that alter the body's immune system, leading to post-traumatic stress disorder. PTSD is a severe anxiety disorder that develops in some people who have been exposed to events involving the threat of serious injury or death.

"We think we have uncovered a key biological step in the process that leads to PTSD," said Monica Uddin, a molecular epidemiologist at the U-M School of Public Health's Center for Social Epidemiology and Population Health.

"Diseases in general, and psychiatric diseases in particular, involve an interplay between social and biological factors," said Uddin, an assistant research scientist in the U-M Department of Epidemiology and lead author of a paper scheduled to be published online Monday in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

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