Increased pro-inflammatory milieu in combat related PTSD – A new cohort replication study

Daniel Lindqvist, Firdaus S. Dhabhar, Synthia H. Mellon, Rachel Yehuda, S. Marlene Grenon, Janine D. Flory, Linda M. Bierer, Duna Abu-Amara, Michelle Coy, Iouri Makotkine, Victor I. Reus, F. Saverio Bersani, Charles R. Marmar, Owen M. Wolkowitz

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

49 Scopus citations


Introduction Several lines of evidence indicate that increased inflammation is associated with Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD). We have previously reported that peripheral inflammatory markers are significantly higher in combat-exposed veterans with than without PTSD. This study was designed to replicate these findings in a new study cohort using the same population and recruitment strategies. Methods Sixty-one male war veterans (31 PTSD and 30 control subjects) were included in this replication study. Levels of Interleukin-6, Tumor Necrosis Factor-alpha, Gamma interferon, and high-sensitivity C-reactive protein were quantified in blood samples. A standardized “total pro-inflammatory score” was calculated to limit the number of statistical comparisons. The Clinician Administered PTSD Scale (CAPS) rating scale was used to assess PTSD symptom severity. Results PTSD subjects had significantly higher total pro-inflammatory scores compared to non-PTSD subjects in unadjusted analysis (Cohen's d = 0.75, p = 0.005) as well as after adjusting for potentially confounding effects of age, BMI, smoking, and potentially interfering medications and somatic co-morbidities (p = 0.023). There were no significant correlations between inflammatory markers and severity of symptoms within the PTSD group. Conclusions We replicated, in a new sample, our previous finding of increased inflammatory markers in combat-exposed PTSD subjects compared to combat-exposed non-PTSD controls. These findings strongly add to the growing literature suggesting that immune activation may be an important aspect of PTSD pathophysiology, although not directly correlated with current PTSD symptom levels in the PTSD group.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)260-264
Number of pages5
JournalBrain, Behavior, and Immunity
StatePublished - Jan 1 2017


  • Combat
  • Cytokines
  • Depression
  • Inflammation
  • Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD)

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Immunology
  • Endocrine and Autonomic Systems
  • Behavioral Neuroscience


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