Tulane, LSU researchers to study connection between PTSD, alcohol abuse

NEW ORLEANS – A professor of cell and molecular biology at the Tulane Brain Institute is studying the connections between post traumatic stress disorder and alcohol abuse.

Jeffrey Tasker hopes to provide insight into the connection between PTSD, which can affect people ranging from soldiers returning from war to survivors of natural disasters, and drinking problems.

“Humans with post-traumatic stress disorder are more likely to develop alcohol use disorder than the general population, and AUD is the most commonly co-occurring mental health disorder in humans with PTSD,” Tasker said. “These conditions, separately and combined, affect millions of Americans, cause millions of deaths worldwide and cost society billions of dollars.”

Nicholas Gilpin, an associate professor of physiology at the LSU Health Sciences Center and associate director of the university’s Alcohol and Drug Abuse Center of Excellence, is collaborating with Tasker on the research.

The pair will use rats to study the neurobiology of the systems of the human brain that control stress-induced alcohol consumption, specifically when combined with a traumatic stress event.

“The aim of this grant is to determine whether there is a link between stress-induced alcohol consumption and the endogenous cannabis signaling system in the part of the brain called the amygdala, which is responsible for assigning emotional valence to sensory experience,” Tasker said.

The research is funded by a five-year, $1.8 million grant from the National Institutes of Health.