The following is a summary of the “Potential peripheral biomarkers associated with the emergence and presence of post-traumatic stress disorder symptomatology: A systematic review,” published in the January 2023 issue of Psychoneuroendocrinology by Sbisa, et al.
There is mounting evidence that the mental and physical components of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) interact with one another. However, reliable and accurate biomarkers have yet to be identified for PTSD, even though they could be useful in identifying people with underlying dysregulation and increased risk. Therefore, the PRISMA guidelines were followed to conduct a systematic review. EMBASE, MEDLINE, and Cochrane Central were used as databases. In addition, studies from a 2015 review (Schmidt et al., 2015) and subsequent papers published in English after that review (between 2014 and May 2022) were included. About 48 studies met the criteria.
Changes in neuroendocrine and immune markers most often accompany psychological distress due to post-traumatic stress disorder. Evidence suggests that PTSD symptoms are linked to hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal axis dysfunction, as reflected by low basal cortisol, immune dysregulation, characterized by an elevated pro-inflammatory state, and metabolic dysfunction. However, many studies failed to account for sex or history of trauma, both of which may influence the physical manifestations of post-traumatic stress disorder.
Results that vary suggest that the relationship between allostasis load, biological markers, and PTSD is still largely undefined, reflecting the complexity and heterogeneity of PTSD.
Future research must incorporate the covariates of sex, prior trauma, adverse childhood experiences, prospective research design, and long-term follow-up. To better understand biomarkers associated with disorder risk and to aid in untangling directionality, future research should investigate biological correlates specific to PTSD symptom domains to determine whether underlying processes differ with symptom expression.