Systems biology approach to understanding post-traumatic stress disorder
Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) is a psychological disorder affecting individuals that have experienced life-changing traumatic events. The symptoms of PTSD experienced by these subjects—including acute anxiety, flashbacks, and hyper-arousal—disrupt their normal functioning. Although PTSD is still categorized as a psychological disorder, recent years have witnessed a multi-directional research effort attempting to understand the biomolecular origins of the disorder. This review begins by providing a brief overview of the known biological underpinnings of the disorder resulting from studies using structural and functional neuroimaging, endocrinology, and genetic and epigenetic assays. Next, we discuss the systems biology approach, which is often used to gain mechanistic insights from the wealth of available high-throughput experimental data. Finally, we provide an overview of the current computational tools used to decipher the heterogeneous types of molecular data collected in the study of PTSD.