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. 2016 Aug;29:104-10.
doi: 10.1016/j.coph.2016.07.011. Epub 2016 Jul 29.

Co-morbidity of PTSD and Immune System Dysfunction: Opportunities for Treatment

Free PMC article

Co-morbidity of PTSD and Immune System Dysfunction: Opportunities for Treatment

Gretchen N Neigh et al. Curr Opin Pharmacol. .
Free PMC article


Posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) is defined as a psychiatric disorder; however, PTSD co-occurs with multiple somatic manifestations. People living with PTSD commonly manifest dysregulations in the systems that regulate the stress response, including the hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal (HPA) axis, and development of a pro-inflammatory state. Additionally, somatic autoimmune and inflammatory diseases and disorders have a high rate of co-morbidity with PTSD. Recognition and understanding of the compounding effect that these disease states can have on each other, evidenced from poorer treatment outcomes and accelerated disease progression in patients suffering from co-morbid PTSD and/or other autoimmune and inflammatory diseases, has the potential to lead to additional treatment opportunities.

Conflict of interest statement

The authors have no conflicts of interest to declare.


Figure 1
Figure 1. A Psychoneuroimmunological Model of PTSD
Exposure to severe psychological trauma in the presence of pre-existing risk factors leads to PTSD. Immune system changes in PTSD include altered glucocorticoid (GC) sensitivity in target immune cells, shifts in immune cell distribution, immunosenescence, elevated pro-inflammatory cytokines and a decrease in regulatory T cells. A complex interplay of the biological alterations in the stress response known to exist in PTSD, along with immune alterations, are hypothesized to increase the risk for co-morbid somatic autoimmune and inflammatory disorders. Immune interventions may improve both primary PTSD symptoms and co-morbid somatic disorders related to the immune system.

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