Biomarkers of PTSD: military applications and considerations

Article English OPEN
Amy Lehrner ; Rachel Yehuda (2014)
  • Publisher: Taylor & Francis Group
  • Journal: European Journal of Psychotraumatology, volume 5 (issn: 2000-8066, eissn: 2000-8066)
  • Related identifiers: pmc: PMC4138702, doi: 10.3402/ejpt.v5.23797
  • Subject: biomarkers | clinical utility | PTSD in the Military: Prevalence, Pathophysiology, Treatment | translation | Psychiatry | ethics | RC435-571 | Posttraumatic stress disorder
    mesheuropmc: behavioral disciplines and activities | mental disorders

Background: Although there are no established biomarkers for posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) as yet, biological investigations of PTSD have made progress identifying the pathophysiology of PTSD. Given the biological and clinical complexity of PTSD, it is increasingly unlikely that a single biomarker of disease will be identified. Rather, investigations will more likely identify different biomarkers that indicate the presence of clinically significant PTSD symptoms, associate with risk for PTSD following trauma exposure, and predict or identify recovery. While there has been much interest in PTSD biomarkers, there has been less discussion of their potential clinical applications, and of the social, legal, and ethical implications of such biomarkers. Objective: This article will discuss possible applications of PTSD biomarkers, including the social, legal, and ethical implications of such biomarkers, with an emphasis on military applications. Method: Literature on applications of PTSD biomarkers and on potential ethical and legal implications will be reviewed. Results: Biologically informed research findings hold promise for prevention, assessment, treatment planning, and the development of prophylactic and treatment interventions. As with any biological indicator of disorder, there are potentially positive and negative clinical, social, legal, and ethical consequences of using such biomarkers. Conclusions: Potential clinical applications of PTSD biomarkers hold promise for clinicians, patients, and employers. The search for biomarkers of PTSD should occur in tandem with an interdisciplinary discussion regarding the potential implications of applying biological findings in clinical and employment settings.
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