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Gene variant in TBI patients may cause psychiatric disorders

Traumatic brain injuries have been known to increase the risk for psychiatric disorders like PTSD, anxiety and depression. For example, the Minneapolis VA Center for Chronic Disease Outcomes Research found that out of the 13,000 veterans it analyzed, 80 percent who incurred a TBI were also diagnosed with a psychiatric disorder. TBI patients in Nevada should know that a new study has discovered a gene variant that can worsen those conditions.

The study was conducted by the Veterans Affairs San Diego Healthcare System and published online in the Journal of Neurotrauma. Researchers found that Apolipoprotein E, a protein responsible for the growth and repair of neurons, can create more severe psychiatric distress when found in the APOE4 gene variant. After testing the DNA of 133 Iraq/Afghanistan veterans, they found that 79 had mild or moderate TBI. Among the 79, those with the APOE4 gene were found to have higher symptom scores for PTSD, anxiety and depression.

On the other hand, there was no difference in symptom severity between non-TBI victims who had or lacked the APOE4 gene. One possible explanation for the link is that TBIs and the APOE4 gene both affect the brain's frontal-subcortical region, which creates emotional distress. APOE4 also raises the risk for vascular disease, which is often connected with depression. Genetic risk plays a role as well.

Those who incur a brain injury through the negligence of another, such as a driver or property owner, may be eligible for compensation. Since brain injuries can lead to severe psychiatric symptoms, it may take a medical expert to trace every development so that victims are reimbursed for as much as possible. This might include future medical expenses. Victims may wish to retain a lawyer for the filing and negotiation or litigation process.

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