Scientists identify compounds that could thwart post-traumatic stress disorder

A brain pathway that is stimulated by traumatic or fearful experiences can be disrupted by two compounds that show promise for preventing post-traumatic stress disorder, Indiana University researchers reported.

In a presentation prepared for the 2012 scientific conference in New Orleans Oct. 13 to 17, Anantha Shekhar and colleagues from IU reported the results of experiments with rats using a standard methodology called a conditioned fear test.

The neural signaling activated by fearful experiences—a process that also is involved in learning and in —begins when the activates a receptor called NMDA, resulting in a later protein reaction involving production of nitrous oxide, another in the brain.

The two small molecules tested, known as IC87201 and ZL006, are known to disrupt such nitrous oxide production.

In the experiment, rats treated with either of the two compounds showed significantly less than the untreated rats, the researchers reported.

The results, the researchers said, supported their hypothesis that the NMDA-mediated nitrous oxide production is important in successful formation of fear memories, and disrupting that interaction could potentially offer a means of preventing long-term post-traumatic stress disorder symptoms

Repeated intense activation of the brain network for fear makes it vulnerable to developing , said Shekhar, Raymond E. Houk Professor of Psychiatry and director of the Indiana Clinical and Translational Sciences Institute.

"The majority of people who have a traumatic event, perhaps about 80 percent, will have some post-traumatic stress disorder symptoms for a few days. Only about 20 percent will have long-term problems, but currently there is no way to predict who those people will be," Shekhar said.

With that uncertainty, it would be appropriate to administer the treatment to all traumatized patients within a few hours of the incident, such as when a person arrives at an emergency room after an accident or a field hospital after a military incident, he said.

The next steps would be to optimize compounds and begin drug development efforts, Shekhar said.

Shekhar will discuss "Post-trauma disruption of nNOS-PSD95 protein-protein interaction is an effective means to ameliorate conditioned fear," 3 to 4 p.m. Monday, in Hall F-J. Other Indiana University researchers involved in the work were Stephanie D. Fitz, Department of Psychology; Philip L. Johnson, assistant professor of anatomy and cell biology; Andrea G. Hohmann, Linda and Jack Gill Chair of Neuroscience and professor of psychological and brain sciences; Ted Widlanski, professor of chemistry; and Yvonne Y. Lai, Department of Psychological and Brain Sciences.

Related Stories

Drug prevents post-traumatic stress syndrome

date Dec 06, 2010

when a severely stressful event triggers exaggerated and chronic fear – affects nearly 8 million people in the United States and is hard to treat. In a preclinical study, Northwestern Medicine scientists have for the ...

Recommended for you

The new normal? Addressing gun violence in America

date 13 hours ago

Article Spotlight features summaries written in collaboration with authors of recently published articles by the Journals Program of the American Psychological Association. The articles are nominated by the editors as noteworthy ...

Demi Lovato gets vocal about mental illness

date 16 hours ago

(HealthDay)—Demi Lovato huddled in the back of her tour bus, eyes wet with tears as she watched a horde of fans streaming into the venue where she was about to play.

Acquiring 'perfect' pitch may be possible for some adults

date 16 hours ago

If you're a musician, this sounds too good to be true: University of Chicago psychologists have been able to train some adults to develop the prized musical ability of absolute pitch, and the training's effects ...

How men and women see each other when online dating

date 18 hours ago

In the world of online dating, nothing is as it seems. But that doesn't stop many of us from leaping to the wrong conclusions about people. A recent paper presented at the Annual Conference of the International ...

User comments

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.