New study on adult refugees who suffered the Rwandan genocide shows that people genetically predisposed to having a good memory are more vulnerable to posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD). Researchers at the University of Basel, in Switzerland, found that a gene for the protein PKCA, which allows people to build strong memories, may be linked to this disorder as well.
The scientists first studied the gene on more than 1,000 non traumatized Swiss subjects, being able to identify one of the variants of the gene (the AA) as the one linked to both positive and negative strong memories. Then, they applied their findings to 347 Rwandan adults, of whom 39% had symptoms of PTSD. The results, published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, showed that the subjects with the AA variant of the gene were more likely to have the symptoms.
The Rwandan genocide happened in 1994 and involved the killing of about 500,000 and 1,000,000 people, depending on the source.
de Quervain DJ, Kolassa IT, Ackermann S, Aerni A, Boesiger P, Demougin P, Elbert T, Ertl V, Gschwind L, Hadziselimovic N, Hanser E, Heck A, Hieber P, Huynh KD, Klarhöfer M, Luechinger R, Rasch B, Scheffler K, Spalek K, Stippich C, Vogler C, Vukojevic V, Stetak A, & Papassotiropoulos A (2012). PKCα is genetically linked to memory capacity in healthy subjects and to risk for posttraumatic stress disorder in genocide survivors. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America PMID: 22586106
Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder
Brief Therapy for Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder