Neuroendocrine biomarkers of prolonged exposure treatment response in military-related PTSD.

Rauch, S. A. M., Sripada, R., Burton, M., Michopoulos, V., Kerley, K., Marx, C. E., Kilts, J. D., Naylor, J. C., Rothbaum, B. O., McLean, C. P., Smith, A., Norrholm, S. D., Jovanovic, T., Liberzon, I., Williamson, D. E., Yarvis, J. S., Dondanville, K. A., Young-McCaughan, S., Keane, T. M., & Peterson, A. L., for the Consortium to Alleviate PTSD and the STRONG STAR Consortium.
Oct 1, 2020

Psychoneuroendocrinology, 119, 104749.

Posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) is associated with dysregulation of the neuroendocrine system, including cortisol, allopregnanolone, and pregnanolone. Preliminary evidence from animal models suggests that baseline levels of these biomarkers may predict response to PTSD treatment. We report the change in biomarkers over the course of PTSD treatment. Biomarkers were sampled from individuals participating in (1) a randomized controlled trial comparing a web-version of Prolonged Exposure (Web-PE) therapy to in-person Present-Centered Therapy (PCT) and (2) from individuals participating in a nonrandomized effectiveness study testing PE delivered in-person as part of an intensive outpatient PTSD program. We found that higher cortisol reactivity during script-driven imagery was associated with higher baseline PTSD severity and that baseline allopregnanolone, pregnanolone, and cortisol reactivity were associated with degree of symptom change over the course of intensive outpatient treatment. These findings demonstrate that peripherally assessed biomarkers are associated with PTSD severity and likelihood of successful treatment outcome of PE delivered daily over two weeks. These assessments could be used to determine which patients are likely to respond to treatment and which patients require augmentation to increase the likelihood of optimal response to PTSD treatment.