Published online Dec 19, 2020. doi: 10.5498/wjp.v10.i12.286
Peer-review started: February 20, 2020
First decision: September 21, 2020
Revised: October 6, 2020
Accepted: November 4, 2020
Article in press: November 4, 2020
Published online: December 19, 2020
Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) is a serious stress-related disorder.
To identify the key genes and pathways to uncover the potential mechanisms of PTSD using bioinformatics methods.
Gene expression profiles were obtained from the Gene Expression Omnibus database. The differentially expressed genes (DEGs) were identified by using GEO2R. Gene functional annotation and pathway enrichment were then conducted. The gene-pathway network was constructed with Cytoscape software. Quantitative real-time polymerase chain reaction (qRT-PCR) analysis was applied for validation, and text mining by Coremine Medical was used to confirm the connections among genes and pathways.
We identified 973 DEGs including 358 upregulated genes and 615 downregulated genes in PTSD. A group of centrality hub genes and significantly enriched pathways (MAPK, Ras, and ErbB signaling pathways) were identified by using gene functional assignment and enrichment analyses. Six genes (KRAS, EGFR, NFKB1, FGF12, PRKCA, and RAF1) were selected to validate using qRT-PCR. The results of text mining further confirmed the correlation among hub genes and the enriched pathways. It indicated that these altered genes displayed functional roles in PTSD via these pathways, which might serve as key signatures in the pathogenesis of PTSD.
The current study identified a panel of candidate genes and important pathways, which might help us deepen our understanding of the underlying mechanism of PTSD at the molecular level. However, further studies are warranted to discover the critical regulatory mechanism of these genes via relevant pathways in PTSD.
Core Tip: Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) is an affective disorder after exposure to trauma or stress directly or indirectly. The pathogenesis of PTSD is not entirely understood. The purpose of this study was to uncover the critical signatures and key pathways to elucidate the underlying mechanisms of PTSD at the molecular level. To address this issue, the closely related genes and the most enriched pathways were identified by using bioinformatics analysis, which was then validated by using basic study in an exploratory approach. Our results showed that a series of significantly expressed genes and relevant pathways might serve as potential biomarkers involved in the pathogenesis of PTSD.