Scientists Find a Direct Link Between Individual’s Immune System and Sensitivity to PTSD; Seeking Finding and Volunteers to Further Research Efforts

October 18, 2019: Huntsville, AL: Little Orange Fish, a 501(c)(3) non-profit committed to furthering community mental health, announced the launch of its Inner Defense Research Initiative, which is a collaborative effort aimed at identifying markers in the immune system that indicate and possibly predict sensitivity to PTSD (post-traumatic stress disorder). This initiative, a collaboration including iXpressGenes Inc., Paragon Research Corporation, the University of Alabama at Huntsville and individual contributors is based on a breakthrough study reporting a strong correlation between the immune system and stress affliction.  The analysis, which is based on a simple blood draw, might guide clinical approaches to PTSD diagnosis and treatment, possibly bringing a revolutionary solution to a crippling problem for many people.

The Inner Defense Research Initiative focuses on developing the diagnostic screen to inform solutions for prevention and treatment, to provide education and outreach and to influence policy change.

For Dr. Joe Ng, founder, and president of iXpressGenes, this mission is personal.  Having survived the mass shooting at UAH in 2011, this research was born from the struggles and firsthand observations of the carnage- caused traumatic stress.  “In honor of those who did not survive and those who did, but suffer terribly,” Dr. Ng said, “I want to find a path to resiliency. The immune system might be that path.”

Dr. Ng’s company, iXpressGenes,  (iXG) is a synthetic biology company located at the HudsonAlpha Institute for Biotechnology, specializing in solutions based on molecular protein structures. iXG has conducted preliminary studies of T-cell receptor transcriptome sequences that offer an unprecedented analysis of linking an immune repertoire to sensitivity or resilience to PTSD, demonstrating that certain immune conditions are more common in people with PTSD. This knowledge opens up a wealth of preventative measures one can take as well as directed treatment options for long-term health.

“Approaching PTSD from the perspective of the immune system changes everything,” said Peggy Sammon, Director, iXG. “The neural-immune axis brings a new set of tools to those who are seeking solutions for PTSD and other debilitating stress conditions.”

While the preliminary findings are encouraging and provide strong support for the proposed study;  the next step is to expand the size of their participant pool and validate the findings in a bigger study. The goal is to collect immune repertoire data for a thousand or more soldiers and first responders who have been exposed to trauma to help establish a secure and intelligent database for analyses and data mining in the search for predictive markers.  Once the markers have been identified and verified, intervention strategies can be recommended.  The team is seeking funding to perform a larger study.

“There is such promise in the science we’ve seen,” John Schmitt, Iraq war veteran and collaborating microbiologist added, “we have built a powerful team of technical experts and innovators in the field, but we will need the support from the wider community to accelerate this work and really make a difference in lives.” 

To learn more about the Inner Defense Research Initiative, participate in the study or to donate, please visit

4 Responses to “Scientists Find a Direct Link Between Individual’s Immune System and Sensitivity to PTSD; Seeking Finding and Volunteers to Further Research Efforts”

  1. EODMadBomb says:

    Very interesting study.
    I’m curious if the Imune factors affect the sensitivity to PTSD or if the PTSD causes the Imune system to change.

  2. Kirk says:

    I’ve said it for years… You can identify a lot of the risk factors for PTSD before it happens.

    Personally, I suspect the whole thing is at least somewhat synergistic, and stems from a combination of factors relating to genes, their expression, microbiota in the individual, and things like environmental cues that probably feed back into all of the other stuff. The deeper we look into all of this, we’re probably going to find out that there are signals sent between the mind, the body, and the environment of the individual that greatly influence how they cope with stress.

    Most of this crap can be observed just by watching people; guy has poor coping and crisis management skills stemming from a childhood of chaos, a body that’s suffered from poor nutrition and instability, that’s going to influence how he copes with things like a combat deployment and high-stress situations.

    I’d also wager that there’s a feedback loop in there, somewhere, between the gut microbiota and the behavioral issues we see. Wrong bacteria influencing the brain, wrong feedback…? What one guy copes with and has no major issues with, another guy is shattered by. Question is, where and what are the crucial influencers? Could it be possible to reduce PTSD simply via something like making sure that the gut bacteria aren’t pumping out the wrong hormonal and chemical signals…?

    There’s a lot of this crap we simply do not understand, and which we need to be studying. One of my guys was a nutrition fanatic, constantly worried about the minutiae of what he was eating, what his microflora were in his gut… Dude was a rock. The other guys he was with…? Not so much. Was what he did the reason? Who knows, but it’s something we need to take a look at.

  3. Jim says:

    Well they seem to have confirmed the link of maladjusted microbiomes and hyperactive fear response in rodents.

    It will be interesting to see if the government ever owns up to the damage done by the anti-malarial drug Lariam like they were finally forced to do with Agent Orange.

    A pessimistic soul might think they are waiting for most of those affected to die before they offer a definitive treatment and compensation.

    An experienced pessimistic soul might even think the VA is actively pursing treatment plans designed to finish off vets. Loading people up with SSRIs when it’s permanent Lariam caused brain damage instead of PTSD does not work. It does make them suicidal though. Especially in the loading and unloading phases of the SSRI drug therapy when it lowers inhibitions. But hey, that’s just crazy talk.