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Texas VA PTSD study invites female veterans to participate

Monday December 9, 2013
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Researchers at the Michael E. DeBakey VA Medical Center and Baylor College of Medicine, both in Houston, are looking for female veterans with post-traumatic stress disorder who are interested in participating in a study examining the role a neuropeptide called corticotropin-releasing factor plays in causing PTSD symptoms. The results may help to identify and develop potential medications to treat PTSD, according to a news release.

Originally, researchers believed when a person experiences a threatening situation, the brain produces cortisol, a stress hormone that tells the victim to fight or flee. Research has shown higher levels of cortisol may actually hurt the brain and be linked to PTSD symptoms. New studies have shown symptoms may be caused not only by cortisol, but also by elevated levels of a CRF. CRF acts as a chemical messenger in the brain and controls the release of cortisol and other hormones named catecholamines, according to the release.

It is believed varying levels of CRF in the brain have an effect on the stress symptoms experienced by those suffering from PTSD. This is likely because abnormal levels of CRF also result in abnormal levels of catecholamines and cortisol. Though these processes are thought to play an important part in the development of PTSD symptoms, their exact role is not entirely understood.

Researchers also have found women may be at higher risk for developing PTSD than men. Studies have shown women are two times more likely to develop PTSD than men. Since PTSD symptoms can be so disabling, potentially causing depression or even suicide, it is important that researchers develop effective PTSD treatments. With information about CRF and PTSD symptoms, researchers are trying to develop medications that incorporate these findings.

Researchers at the Debakey VA center and Baylor are looking for female veterans between the ages of 21 and 64 years with PTSD who are interested in participating in the study. Participants cannot have any current substance abuse issues. The study lasts six weeks and is conducted at the Debakey VA and Baylor College of Medicine. It involves taking an investigational drug intended to change CRF levels; thereby, reducing the severity of the symptoms of PTSD. Participants may receive compensation for their time.

Those interested in participating in the study can contact the research team at 1-877-96-BCM-MOOD (226-6663) or email mood@bcm.edu.


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