Transcriptomic Analysis of Sex Differences in Vulnerability to Post-traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD)

Clinical Research Poster

C12

Alma Mater

Transcriptomic Analysis of Sex Differences in Vulnerability to Post-traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD)

Author/Presenter: Grace Kim
Co-Author(s): None


Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) is a debilitating mental disorder that is precipitated by exposure to a traumatic event. Women show significantly higher risk for PTSD and other stress-related psychiatric disorders, such as depression, than men given similar levels of stress exposures. Although susceptibility to these stress-related disorders is sexually dimorphic, sex differences in stress response mechanisms have not been adequately investigated. A transcriptomic approach to studying these differences can provide mechanistic insights into pathways that may be dysregulated in the onset and pathophysiology of PTSD. To address this gap in knowledge, we assessed leukocyte-derived gene expression patterns associated with PTSD within each sex. Peripheral blood leukocyte samples were obtained from adult participants of the Detroit Neighborhood Health Study (64 PTSD cases and 65 controls) and their gene expression levels were measured on Illumina HT-12 v4 BeadChip arrays. Results showed that there were more genes differentially expressed (DE) between PTSD cases versus controls in females than in males (FDR-adjusted p-value < 0.05). Pathways enriched for these differentially expressed genes may be involved in vulnerability to PTSD and stress response mechanisms in a sex-specific manner and should be investigated further to elucidate mechanisms of sex-specific pathophysiology in PTSD and stress-related disorders.

Author/Presenter Bio: Grace Kim is an MD/PhD student in the Neuroscience Program. Previously, she earned a B.S. in Brain and Cognitive Sciences from MIT and a MS in Bioengineering from Illinois. Her research in Professor Uddin’s lab focuses on studying sex differences in gene expression in post-traumatic stress disorder and depression. She is especially interested in studying dynamic, sex-specific patterns of miRNA expression across important developmental time periods (i.e. adolescence) in brain and peripheral tissues to understand the role of miRNAs in bidirectional crosstalk between the brain and periphery.

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