Thursday, January 28, 2010

New Test Help Spot PTSD - Researchers Find New Method to Identify Biomarkers for PTSD

A U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs-funded study at the University of Minnesota and Minneapolis VA Medical Center has used magnetoencephalography (MEG) to identify a biological marker in the brains of persons exhibiting post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).

The study is published in the January 20 issue of the Journal of Neural Engineering. The lead researchers are Apostolos Georgopoulos, M.D., Ph.D., and Brian Engdahl., Ph.D., who are both members of the Brain Sciences Center at the Minneapolis VA Medical Center and University of Minnesota.

According to the study the subjects were a group of 74 veterans in Minnesota and Wisconsin with a likely current PTSD diagnosis. Some of the veterans had been in combat conflicts including World War II, or the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, or most frequently the Vietnam War.

The researchers were able to diagnose PTSD using MEG. MEG is a non-invasive technique that measures magnetic fields in the brain generated by electrical activity, which the University of Minnesota says conventional brain scans (X-ray, CT, or MRI) are unable to do. The MEG measurements of tens of thousands of brain cells enabled the researchers to locate specific biomarkers in the brains of patients exhibiting PTSD. The researchers reported more than 90 percent accuracy in differentiating PTSD patients from healthy control subjects using MEG.

PTSD, according to the National Institute of Mental Health, is "an anxiety disorder that can develop after exposure to a terrifying event or ordeal in which grave physical harm occurred or was threatened. Traumatic events that may trigger PTSD include violent personal assaults, natural or human-caused disasters, accidents, or military combat."

"These findings document robust differences in brain function between the PTSD and control groups that can be used for differential diagnosis and which possess the potential for assessing and monitoring disease progression and effects of therapy," Dr. Georgopoulos said in a press release.

The University of Minnesota says this research on detecting post-traumatic stress disorder, follows success in using MEG in detecting other brain diseases, such as Alzheimer's and multiple sclerosis.

Adapted in part from a University of Minnesota Press release:

Jerald Terwilliger
National Chairman
American Cold War Veterans, Inc