According to the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs, approximately seven or eight percent of the United States population will develop post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). Alcohol Use Disorder (AUD) is another prevalent issue that millions of Americans face, and patients with PTSD are more susceptible to developing this disorder. To further understand the effects of the comorbidity of these two afflictions, the Roberto lab and Zorilla lab at the Scripps Research Institute worked together to conduct a study that analyzed specific changes in the brain of patients with PTSD and AUD. Their research analyzed the patients’ sleep schedules, behavior, inflammatory responses, and levels of GABA, a neurotransmitter that regulates anxiety. In this study, scientists discovered that there are sex-specific differences in patterns of GABA signalling. Specifically, females experienced an increase in GABA release, whereas males had an increase in the functioning of GABA receptors. Currently, there are not many effective treatments for patients with either of these disorders, but this finding could allow scientists to develop new treatments that can effectively target the different symptoms that males and females experience with PTSD and AUD. In addition to this discovery, researchers have identified a biomarker in males that could indicate that a patient with PTSD is more susceptible to developing AUD. This finding is incredibly useful in understanding the relationship between the comorbidity of these two disorders, and more extensive research must be done to find a similar biomarker in females.
Scripps Research Institute. "PTSD and alcohol abuse go hand-in-hand, but males and females exhibit symptoms differently: In rodent experiments modeled to mimic real-life circumstances, scientists revealed brain mechanisms that could lead to targeted treatments.." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 23 October 2020. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2020/10/201023191035.htm>.