Screening for PTSD and TBI in Veterans using Routine Clinical Laboratory Blood Tests
Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) is a mental disorder diagnosed by clinical interviews, self-report measures and neuropsychological testing. Traumatic brain injury (TBI) can have neuropsychiatric symptoms similar to PTSD. Diagnosing PTSD and TBI is challenging and more so for providers lacking specialized training facing time pressures in primary care and other general medical settings. Diagnosis relies heavily on patient self-report and patients frequently under-report or over-report their symptoms due to stigma or seeking compensation. We aimed to create objective diagnostic screening tests utilizing Clinical Laboratory Improvement Amendments (CLIA) blood tests available in most clinical settings. CLIA blood test results were ascertained in 475 male veterans with and without PTSD and TBI following warzone exposure in Iraq or Afghanistan. Using random forest (RF) methods, four classification models were derived to predict PTSD and TBI status. CLIA features were selected utilizing a stepwise forward variable selection RF procedure. The AUC, accuracy, sensitivity, and specificity were 0.730, 0.706, 0.659, and 0.715, respectively for differentiating PTSD and healthy controls (HC), 0.704, 0.677, 0.671, and 0.681 for TBI vs. HC, 0.739, 0.742, 0.635, and 0.766 for PTSD comorbid with TBI vs HC, and 0.726, 0.723, 0.636, and 0.747 for PTSD vs. TBI. Comorbid alcohol abuse, major depressive disorder, and BMI are not confounders in these RF models. Markers of glucose metabolism and inflammation are among the most significant CLIA features in our models. Routine CLIA blood tests have the potential for discriminating PTSD and TBI cases from healthy controls and from each other. These findings hold promise for the development of accessible and low-cost biomarker tests as screening measures for PTSD and TBI in primary care and specialty settings.
Utilization of machine learning for identifying symptom severity military-related PTSD subtypes and their biological correlates
We sought to find clinical subtypes of posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) in veterans 6-10 years post-trauma exposure based on current symptom assessments and to examine whether blood biomarkers could differentiate them. Samples were males deployed to Iraq and Afghanistan studied by the PTSD Systems Biology Consortium: a discovery sample of 74 PTSD cases and 71 healthy controls (HC), and a validation sample of 26 PTSD cases and 36 HC. A machine learning method, random forests (RF), in conjunction with a clustering method, partitioning around medoids, were used to identify subtypes derived from 16 self-report and clinician assessment scales, including the clinician-administered PTSD scale for DSM-IV (CAPS). Two subtypes were identified, designated S1 and S2, differing on mean current CAPS total scores: S2â€‰=â€‰75.6 (sd 14.6) and S1â€‰=â€‰54.3 (sd 6.6). S2 had greater symptom severity scores than both S1 and HC on all scale items. The mean first principal component score derived from clinical summary scales was three times higher in S2 than in S1. Distinct RFs were grown to classify S1 and S2 vs. HCs and vs. each other on multi-omic blood markers feature classes of current medical comorbidities, neurocognitive functioning, demographics, pre-military trauma, and psychiatric history. Among these classes, in each RF intergroup comparison of S1, S2, and HC, multi-omic biomarkers yielded the highest AUC-ROCs (0.819-0.922); other classes added little to further discrimination of the subtypes. Among the top five biomarkers in each of these RFs were methylation, micro RNA, and lactate markers, suggesting their biological role in symptom severity.