Reference Work Entry

Comprehensive Guide to Post-Traumatic Stress Disorders

pp 961-978

Date:

Level of Expression and Functional Properties of Lymphocyte Corticosteroid Receptors as Biological Correlates of PTSD, Trauma-Exposure, or Resilience to PTSD

  • Gordana MatićAffiliated withDepartment of Biochemistry, Institute for Biological Research “Siniša Stanković”, University of Belgrade Email author 
  • , Danijela Vojnović MilutinovićAffiliated withDepartment of Biochemistry, Institute for Biological Research “Siniša Stanković”, University of Belgrade
  • , Ivana ElakovićAffiliated withDepartment of Biochemistry, Institute for Biological Research “Siniša Stanković”, University of Belgrade
  • , Jelena NestorovAffiliated withDepartment of Biochemistry, Institute for Biological Research “Siniša Stanković”, University of Belgrade
  • , Danka SavićAffiliated withLaboratory for Theoretical and Condensed Matter Physics, Vinča Institute of Nuclear Sciences, University of Belgrade

Abstract

This chapter summarizes current research on glucocorticoid receptor (GR) functional alterations associated with trauma exposure, posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) psychopathology, and resilience and vulnerability to PTSD. Special attention is paid to hormone-binding activity of the receptor, the level of its expression, its ratio to mineralocorticoid receptor (MR), and the interactions of corticosteroid receptors with heat shock protein chaperones, Hsp90 and Hsp70.

Determinations of GR number (Bmax) and assessments of lymphocyte sensitivity to glucocorticoids in trauma-exposed individuals with and without PTSD have yielded rather inconsistent results. The contribution of most other factors determining tissue responsiveness to glucocorticoid hormones to PTSD pathophysiology is currently under investigation. Thus, increased GR protein level in peripheral lymphocytes from current and lifetime PTSD patients in comparison to trauma-exposed non-PTSD individuals (trauma controls) appeared to be a possible correlate of vulnerability to PTSD. Besides, PTSD patients displayed the lowest and trauma controls the highest fractional occupancy of the GR, suggesting that the receptor redox status may be a factor contributing to vulnerability/resilience to PTSD. Estimates of the GR hormone-binding potency (Bmax/KD ratio) and of strength of correlation between Bmax and KD pointed to deterioration of glucocorticoid signaling in the lymphocytes as a characteristic of PTSD patients. Lymphocyte MR protein level, MR/GR ratio, and Hsp90 and Hsp70 levels were found to be unaffected by traumatic events and past or current PTSD symptoms. However, the association of GR and Hsp90 expression levels appeared as a candidate marker of trauma exposure, while that of MR and Hsp70 levels of vulnerability to PTSD.

Keywords

PTSD Trauma Corticosteroid receptors Glucocorticoid receptor Mineralocorticoid receptor Peripheral blood mononuclear cells Resilience to PTSD Vulnerability to PTSD, heat shock proteins