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VA RESEARCH QUARTERLY UPDATE
This Issue: Care for Returning Service Members | Table of Contents: Winter 2016 |

Noteworthy Publications

Trauma tied to autoimmune disorders


In autoimmune diseases, the body produces antibodies that attack its own tissue. <em>(Photo: ©iStock/Ingram_Publishing) </em>
In autoimmune diseases, the body produces antibodies that attack its own tissue. (Photo: ©iStock/Ingram_Publishing)

In autoimmune diseases, the body produces antibodies that attack its own tissue. (Photo: ©iStock/Ingram_Publishing)

A retrospective study of 666,269 Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans under the age of 55 found that trauma exposure and PTSD may increase the risk of developing autoimmune disorders.

The study, published in 2015 by researchers with VA and the University of California, San Francisco, found that 30.6 percent of the Veterans in the study had a diagnosis of PTSD, and psychiatric disorders other than PTSD were diagnosed in an additional 19.5 percent.

The investigators learned that Veterans with PTSD or other psychiatric disorders had a significantly higher adjusted relative risk of autoimmune disorders including thyroiditis, inflammatory bowel disease, rheumatoid arthritis, multiple sclerosis, and lupus erythematosus.

In autoimmune diseases, the body produces antibodies that attack its own tissue.

The research team hypothesized that alterations in immune function, lifestyle changes related to the psychiatric disorder, or a shared set of disease causes may underlie the finding.


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