Post-traumatic stress disorder in teens induces metabolic changes in the brain

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  • Published: Aug 24, 2015
  • Author: Steve Down
  • Channels: MRI Spectroscopy
thumbnail image: Post-traumatic stress disorder in teens induces metabolic changes in the brain

Teenagers who survived the devastating earthquake in Sichuan Province, China in 2008 and went on to develop post-traumatic stress disorder have undergone alterations in the levels of some brain metabolites, say Chinese researchers writing in Psychiatry and Clinical Neurosciences.

Around 69,000 people died and another 374,000 were injured in this disaster and a number of surviving teenagers were examined by magnetic resonance imaging. The cerebral results of those diagnosed with PTSD were compared with those of young people who had been diagnosed with PTSD but were in remittance 17 month after the earthquake as well as with healthy controls.

The data revealed clear differences in the levels of glutamic acid plus glutamine relative to creatinine (Glx/Cr) in the anterior cingulate cortex, the region which is involved in decision making and emotional regulation as well regulating physiological processes. The value of Glx/Cr was greatest in the healthy subjects, falling for those who were in remittance and falling further in those with PSTD.

In trying to interpret their findings, the researchers suggested that the differences could be a result of brain dysfunction and recovery. The low glutamate levels will contribute to the increased fear responses of the PSTD sufferers and the lack of control.

If confirmed on a wider number of patients, the results could be used to identify people who are suffering with PTSD and those who are on the road to recovery.

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