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Autonomic Neuroscience: Basic and Clinical

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In the field of psychiatry, biological markers are rarely, if ever, used in the diagnosis of mental health disorders. Clinicians rely primarily on patient histories and behavioral symptoms to identify specific psychopathologies, which makes diagnosis highly subjective. Moreover, therapies for mental health disorders are aimed specifically at attenuating behavioral manifestations, which overlooks the pathophysiological indices of the disease. This is highly evident in posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) where inflammation and immune system perturbations are becoming increasingly described. Further, patients with PTSD possess significantly elevated risks of developing comorbid inflammatory diseases such as autoimmune and cardiovascular diseases, which are likely linked (though not fully proven) to the apparent dysregulation of the immune system after psychological trauma. To date, there is little to no evidence that demonstrates current PTSD therapies are able to reverse the increased risk for psychological trauma-induced inflammatory diseases, which suggests the behavioral and somatic consequences of PTSD may not be tightly coupled. This observation provides an opportunity to explore unique mechanisms outside of the brain that contribute to the long-term pathology of PTSD. Herein, we provide an overview of neuroimmune mechanisms, describe what is known regarding innate and adaptive immunity in PTSD, and suggest new directions that are needed to advance the understanding, diagnosis, and treatment of PTSD moving forward.



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Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International License