recorded webinar

Research Feature: A Study of an Epigenetic Biomarker for PTSD-related Inflammation and Neuropathology

mental health research - ptsd - early career award winner - 2022
Tuesday, May 24, 2022 9:00 am
- 9:30 am ET
CE/CME Credit

Methylation of the AIM2 gene: A common biomarker for PTSD-related inflammation and neuropathology

#ADAA2022 Donald F. Klein Awardee Research Presentation

Posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) is associated with elevated levels of inflammation, which may help to explain the link between PTSD and chronic disease. The Absent in Melanoma 2 (AIM2) gene has been implicated in mechanisms of inflammation and anxiety, and methylation at a particular locus in this gene (cg10636246) has previously been shown to influence the association between PTSD and elevated C‐reactive protein (a marker of inflammation) levels in blood.  This webinar presents an overview of the associations between PTSD, inflammation, and chronic disease and describes research testing whether prior work implicating AIM2 methylation in PTSD-related inflammation extends to other blood-based biomarkers of inflammation and to neuropathology.  Peripheral markers of inflammation and neuropathology were measured using ultra‐sensitive Single Molecule Array (Simoa®) technology, which precisely measures analytes at extremely low concentrations, thereby increasing the ability to detect disease risk prior to any symptom onset.  The research presented in this webinar suggests that AIM2 methylation is a mechanism through which PTSD is associated with both inflammation and neuropathology.  Clinical implications are discussed, supporting the use of AIM2 methylation as a cost‐effective clinical target that singularly captures multiple biological markers associated with trauma-related risk and resilience towards inflammatory and neuropathological conditions and for informing early intervention when disease trajectories may be reversible. 


Donald F. Klein Early Career Investigator Award

ADAA offers an annual award to an early career investigator for the best original research paper on neurobiology, psychopharmacology, psychosocial treatments, or experimental psychopathology of anxiety disorders and depression. This award is named for Donald F. Klein, MD (1928-2019), who revolutionized psychiatric thinking through his discovery in the early 1960s that imipramine, a recently developed psychotropic medication, was effective in blocking panic attacks.
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Presenter(s) Biography

Sage E. Hawn, PhD

Sage E. Hawn, PhD

Dr. Sage Hawn is an Assistant Professor of Clinical Psychology and director of the Trauma, Resilience, and Comorbidities Lab (Hawn TRAC Lab) at Old Dominion University. Her interdisciplinary research focuses on understanding how biological (e.g., genetic) and psychosocial factors interact to influence responses to trauma, including posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and comorbid conditions. The ultimate goal of this work is to identify risk and protective factors that may predispose individuals to, or buffer against, trauma exposure and subsequent mental and physical health outcomes in order to inform early and integrative intervention efforts.

Dr. Hawn is the ADAA 2022 Donald F. Klein Early Career Investigator Awardee.

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