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 common trauma-related or stressor-related disorder characterized by a wide range of significant symptoms, e.g., avoidance, negative emotion, and hyperarousal. A variety of targeted genes and pathways may be associated with the occurrence and progression of PTSD.
The underlying mechanisms of PTSD are complicated and not entirely clear. We sought to uncover the key targets for the potential mechanisms associated with PTSD at the molecular level.
The main objective was to identify critical genes and key pathways associated with PTSD.
Our study was conducted based on the NCBI Gene Expression Omnibus database by using bioinformatics analysis. The differentially expressed genes were identified by using GEO2R. Gene functional annotation and pathway enrichment were performed using the Database for Annotation, Visualization, and Integrated Discovery. The gene-pathway network was mapped 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.
A total of 358 upregulated genes and 615 downregulated genes were obtained. These altered genes were significantly enriched in PTSD-related pathways, such as MAPK, Ras, and ErbB signaling pathways. The co-expression pattern of these enriched pathways with their genes was constructed. And a group of hub genes was obtained from the gene-pathway network. qRT-PCR indicated that the hub genes were differentially expressed. Besides, text mining showed that these genes were linearly connected with the associated pathways, which suggested that these genes might play crucial roles in the signal pathway conduction in the onset and development of PTSD.
The results of this study have contributed to the identification of a panel of candidate genes and important pathways, which may serve as potential biomarkers involved in the pathogenesis of PTSD.
Our findings may provide a significant step forward in understanding the pathogenesis of PTSD at the molecular level.