Using blood samples from suicide attempters and non-attempters, and post-mortem brain tissue from patients who had committed suicide and non-suicide controls, Center for the Study of Traumatic Stress scientists examined levels of peripheral blood mononuclear cell (PBMC) p11 mRNA to determine how these levels might help differentiate between those individuals who would attempt or complete suicide versus those who would not. The results demonstrated for the first time that PMBC p11 mRNA level is a potential adjunctive biomarker for the assessment of suicide risk in mental disorders.
An exciting study building upon the center’s finding of p11 as a genetic marker for PTSD in rats is its Stress & Biomarkers in a Military Population Study, which is seeking to replicate p11 findings from the animal studies, as well as explore other potential biomarkers identified in other (non-CSTS) studies. In 2010, Center scientists made three trips to Ft. Bragg, to administer an 18-page questionnaire addressing PTSD, alcohol and substance use, depression, and other co-morbidity to the soldiers in the Special operations command who have experienced the challenges of various combat exposures including close contact with enemy fire, IED blasts, and multiple deployments. Simultaneous sampling of blood and saliva has been conducted in an effort to identify genetic markers for those who meet the criteria/diagnosis of these disorders. The study has expanded to include surveying and biospecimen collection from the members of the 82nd Airborne Division.