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Childhood adversity may lead to unhealthy stress response in adult life
Date:10/7/2010

PROVIDENCE, R.I. [Brown University] Seemingly healthy adults, if they were abused or neglected during childhood, may suffer physiological consequences decades later. In research published online last week by the journal Neuropsychopharmacology, a team led by psychiatrists at Brown University and Butler Hospital found that healthy adults who reported being mistreated as kids appear to have an elevated inflammatory response to stress compared to adults who had happier childhoods.

Lead author Linda Carpenter, associate professor of psychiatry and human behavior, said that prior research has revealed preliminary associations between inflammatory markers, (such as cytokines or proteins released in the bloodstream such as interleuken-6) and depression and anxiety disorders, so this new finding could ultimately improve doctors' understanding of how stressors in childhood shape the risk people face for developing those conditions later in life.

"Animal models have given us some signals about how the functioning of an organism's stress response system can run amok for the rest its life as a result of some of the earliest environment exposures adverse ones in particular," said Carpenter, who also treats patients with mood disorders at Butler. "This is one of a number of studies we've been doing with generally healthy adults, looking at the effects of adverse early environment and how it might create a biological abnormality that could predispose somebody to future depression or another medical disorders."

A study in 2006 at Emory University had shown that men who were mistreated as kids and were now struggling with symptoms of depression as adults had an elevated inflammatory response to stress, Carpenter said. The goal of her team in this pilot study was to find out whether the same is true of adults who endured early life adversity, but are not experiencing psychiatric disorders like depression. The results supported the idea that
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Contact: David Orenstein
david_orenstein@brown.edu
401-863-1862
Brown University
Source:Eurekalert

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