Background: Posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) is a severe problem among soldiers
with combating experience difficult to treat. The pathogenesis is still not fully understood at the
psychological level. Therefore, genetic research became a focus of interest. The identification of
single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) may help to predict, which persons are at high risk to
develop PTSD as a starting point to develop novel targeted drugs for treatment.
Methods: We conducted a systematic review on SNPs in genes related to PTSD pathology and
development of targeted pharmacological treatment options based on PubMed database searches. We
focused on clinical trials with military personnel.
Results: SNPs in 22 human genes have been linked to PTSD. These genes encode proteins acting as
neurotransmitters and receptors, downstream signal transducers and metabolizing enzymes.
Pharmacological inhibitors may serve as drug candidates for PTSD treatment, e.g. β2 adrenoreceptor
antagonists, dopamine antagonists, partial dopamine D2 receptor agonists, dopamine β hydroxylase
inhibitors, fatty acid amid hydrolase antagonists, glucocorticoid receptor agonists, tropomyosin receptor
kinase B agonists, selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors, catechol-O-methyltransferase inhibitors,
gamma-amino butyric acid receptor agonists, glutamate receptor inhibitors, monoaminoxidase B
inhibitors, N-methyl-d-aspartate receptor antagonists.
Conclusion: The combination of genetic and pharmacological research may lead to novel targetbased
drug developments with improved specificity and efficacy to treat PTSD. Specific SNPs may
be identified as reliable biomarkers to assess individual disease risk. Focusing on soldiers suffering
from PTSD will not only help to improve treatment options for this specific group, but for all PTSD
patients and the general population.