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Journal article deals with PTSD treatment

Philip Zoladz, Ph.D., assistant professor of psychology, is coauthor of an article titled "Differential effectiveness of tianeptine, clonidine and amitriptyline in blocking traumatic memory expression, anxiety and hypertension in an animal model of PTSD" published in the journal "Progress in Neuro-Psychopharmacology & Biological Psychiatry."

Zoladz authored the paper with Monika Fleshner, professor of integrative physiology at the University of Colorado at Boulder, and David Diamond, professor of psychology at the University of South Florida.

He explains, “During my dissertation research, I developed an animal model of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) using rats. Animal models of psychological disorders are extremely helpful because they afford scientists the opportunity to develop a better understanding of the neurobiological mechanisms underlying the disorders, and they allow for experimental treatments for such disorders to be tested preclinically. The animal model of PTSD that I developed included trauma induction procedures, which are analogous to those that induce PTSD in people, including a threat to survival, a lack of control, an intrusive re-experiencing of a traumatic event and social instability. Specifically, I combined two acute traumatic experiences (two 1-hr periods of inescapable confinement of rats in close proximity to a cat) with a 1-month-long period of social stress (in this case, unstable housing conditions). I previously reported that rats that were exposed to this regimen exhibited changes in physiology and behavior in common with people diagnosed with PTSD, including a powerful memory for the "traumatic" experience, heightened anxiety, exaggerated startle, impaired cognition, increased cardiovascular reactivity, abnormal endocrinological profiles and altered DNA methylation (Roth et al., 2011; Zoladz et al., 2008; Zoladz et al., 2012).

In the present study, I examined the ability of different pharmacological agents to ameliorate the physiological and behavioral sequelae that I observed in previous work. I found that tianeptine, an antidepressant, was the most effective agent at preventing the onset of PTSD-like behaviors in rats. Such a finding provides guidance in the development of treatments for traumatized people by demonstrating the differential effectiveness of specific pharmacological agents in blocking the physiological and behavioral consequences of psychosocial stress.

 

Zoladz, P.R., Fleshner, M., & Diamond, D.M. (in press). Differential effectiveness of tianeptine, clonidine and amitriptyline in blocking traumatic memory expression, anxiety and hypertension in an animal model of PTSD. Progress in Neuro-Psychopharmacology & Biological Psychiatry.