TUESDAY, Aug. 29 (HealthDay News) -- Blood levels of the neurotransmitter gamma-aminobutyric acid, or GABA, in trauma patients may predict the development of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), according to the results of a study of car-accident victims published in the August issue of the American Journal of Psychiatry.
Guillaume Vaiva, M.D., Ph.D., of the University of Lille II, School of Medicine in France, and colleagues measured GABA blood levels in 78 car-accident victims who had been admitted to trauma centers and hospitalized for at least three days.
After one year, the researchers found that 80 percent of patients whose post-trauma GABA levels were below 0.2 mmol/ml met all or most of the criteria for PTSD and that two-thirds of them also met criteria for major depressive disorder. Among patients who met all or most of the criteria for PTSD at six weeks, they also found that 75 percent of those whose post-trauma GABA levels were above 0.2 mmol/ml no longer met criteria for PTSD after one year.
"From a clinical perspective, it would be extremely helpful to predict with reasonable accuracy which trauma patients are at risk of having chronic PTSD," the authors conclude. "Our results, if replicated, would suggest that a plasma GABA level greater than 0.2 mmol/ml may protect against chronic PTSD and may represent a marker of recovery among patients who have suffered trauma."
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