Inflammation in post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD): A review of potential correlates of PTSD with a neurological perspective

Tammy D. Kim, Suji Lee, Sujung Yoon

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

87 Scopus citations


Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) is a chronic condition characterized by symptoms of physiological and psychosocial burden. While growing research demonstrated signs of inflammation in PTSD, specific biomarkers that may be representative of PTSD such as the detailed neural correlates underlying the inflammatory responses in relation to trauma exposure are seldom discussed. Here, we review recent studies that explored alterations in key inflammatory markers in PTSD, as well as neuroimaging-based studies that further investigated signs of inflammation within the brain in PTSD, as to provide a comprehensive summary of recent literature with a neurological perspective. A search was conducted on studies published from 2009 through 2019 in PubMed and Web of Science. Fifty original articles were selected. Major findings included elevated levels of serum proinflammatory cytokines in individuals with PTSD across various trauma types, as compared with those without PTSD. Furthermore, neuroimaging-based studies demonstrated that altered inflammatory markers are associated with structural and functional alterations in brain regions that are responsible for the regulation of stress and emotion, including the amygdala, hippocampus, and frontal cortex. Future studies that utilize both central and peripheral inflammatory markers are warranted to elucidate the underlying neurological pathway of the pathophysiology of PTSD.

Original languageEnglish
Article number107
Issue number2
StatePublished - Feb 2020

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2020 by the authors. Licensee MDPI, Basel, Switzerland.


  • Cytokines
  • Inflammation
  • Magnetic resonance imaging
  • Neuroimaging
  • Oxidative stress
  • Post-traumatic stress disorder


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