Navigation Links
Low levels of neurotransmitter serotonin may perpetuate child abuse across generations

Infant abuse may be perpetuated between generations by changes in the brain induced by early experience, research shows at the University of Chicago shows.

A research team found that when baby rhesus monkeys endured high rates of maternal rejection and mild abuse in their first month of life, their brains often produced less serotonin, a chemical that transmits impulses in the brain. Low levels of serotonin are associated with anxiety and depression and impulsive aggression in both humans and monkeys.

Abused females who became abusive mothers in adulthood had lower serotonin in their brains than abused females who did not become abusive parents, the research showed.

Because the biological make up of humans and monkeys is quite similar, the findings from the monkey research could be valuable in understanding human child abuse, said Dario Maestripieri, Associate Professor in Comparative Human Development at the University of Chicago.

"This research could have important implications for humans because we do not fully understand why some abused children become abusive parents and others don't," Maestripieri said. The research suggests that treatments with drugs that increase brain serotonin early in an abused child's life could reduce the likelihood that the child will grow up to become abusive, Maestripieri said.

Maestripieri is lead author of a paper reporting the research, "Early Maternal Rejection Affects the Development of Monoaminergic Systems and Adult Abusive Parenting in Rhesus Macaques" published in the current issue of Behavioral Neuroscience.

The study is the first to show that naturally occurring individual variation in maternal behavior in monkeys can affect the brain development of the offspring, and the first to show a link between serotonin and infant abuse in primates. Other research using rats as animal models has shown that serotonin production is influenced by a mother's treatment of her off spring early in their lives and affects the offsprings's responses to stress in adulthood.

In earlier research on abuse of infant monkeys, Maestripieri and his colleagues studied females that were switched at birth between abusive and non-abusive mothers. That research showed that the offspring of non-abusive mothers were likely to become abusive themselves if they were raised by abusive mothers. That finding showed that the intergenerational transmission of abusive parenting was the result of early experience and not of genetic similarities between mothers and daughters.

"We didn't know if the reason that the babies grew up to be abusive was that they watched how their mothers parented and repeated their behavior or whether their early experience produced long-term changes in brain processes that regulate emotions. We also noticed that about half of the babies exposed to abuse became abusive parents, whereas the other half did not. This is also the case in humans as not all abused children grow up to be abusers."

In order to study the possible effects of early abuse on brain development, the team watched the mothers as they parented to note hitting and other negative behaviors toward their infants, and took samples of their cerebrospinal fluid to measure the metabolite concentrations of brain neurotransmitters such as serotonin every six months. They followed the infants until they became mothers themselves and studied their maternal behavior to note any abusive behaviors toward their infants.

The team found that infants who became abusive as adults had about 10 to 20 percent less serotonin than did infants who did not become abusive as parents or infants who were not exposed to maternal abuse. The reduced level of serotonin remained constant into adulthood.

Monkeys who were rejected more by their mothers early in life had lower serotonin in their brains than monkeys reared by less rejecting mothers. The effects of ma ternal behavior on brain serotonin in the offspring were observed in both infants that were reared by their genetic mothers and infants reared by foster mothers.


Source:University of Chicago

Related biology news :

1. New lab technique identifies high levels of pathogens in therapy pool
2. Scientists at Galileo Pharmaceuticals confirm inflammatory response linked to glucose levels
3. MERIS monitoring tracks planetary photosynthesis levels
4. High carbon dioxide levels spur Southern pines to grow more needles
5. Enzyme affects hypertension by controlling salt levels in body
6. Field tested: Grasslands wont help buffer climate change as carbon dioxide levels rise
7. Babys genes affect moms cholesterol levels
8. Males with elevated levels of testosterone lead shorter lives but have more success siring offspring
9. Salmonella bacteria use RNA to assess and adjust magnesium levels
10. Fish on acid: Hagfish cope with high levels of CO2
11. High estrogen levels associated with dementia in older men
Post Your Comments:

(Date:9/28/2015)... According to a new market ... (Scanner & Others), Application (Access Control & Others), Industry ... Geography Global - Forecast to 2020", published by MarketsandMarkets, the ... Million by 2020, at a CAGR of 23.40% between ... data T ables and 66 Figures ...
(Date:9/24/2015)... YORK , Sept. 24, 2015  EyeLock LLC, ... be showcasing its award winning and latest technology in ... Anaheim, California . EyeLock,s iris ... security with unmatched biometric accuracy, making it the most ... EyeLock,s platform uses video technology to deliver a fast ...
(Date:9/10/2015)... LONDON , Sept. 10, 2015 ... This New Study Reveals Selling Opportunities and Revenue ... What,s the future of biologics, especially new drug ... You will stay ahead with exclusive market data ... can explore trends, developments, results, opportunities and sales ...
Breaking Biology News(10 mins):
(Date:10/12/2015)... - Aeterna Zentaris Inc. (NASDAQ:  AEZS) (TSX: AEZ) (the ... commercializing novel treatments in oncology, endocrinology and women,s health, ... the Company,s former Senior Vice President, Chief Financial Officer, ... City office.  David A. ... the Company commented, "After a comprehensive review, the Company,s ...
(Date:10/12/2015)... Rochelle, Virginia (PRWEB) , ... October 12, 2015 ... ... LLC announced today that Dr. Srini Srinivasan, has joined the firm as a ... expertise and professional stature enable them to bring extraordinary value to the company's ...
(Date:10/10/2015)... 2015 Am 8. Oktober hat die ... für Kalifornien) ihre Würdigung der International Plasma Awareness ... Aufzeichnungen des Kongresses eintragen lassen. Die IPAW wird ... (PPTA) und ihren Mitgliedsunternehmen unterstützt. Ihre Ziele bestehen ... über Plasmaspenden weltweit , Würdigung des Beitrages ...
(Date:10/9/2015)... LEXINGTON, Mass. , Oct. 9, 2015  Pulmatrix, Inc., ... presentation at two upcoming investor conferences. th ... at 11:00 am PDT (2:00 pm EDT). --> ... 20, 2015 at 11:00 am PDT (2:00 pm EDT). ... James 2015 Small Cap Growth Stock Conference on Thursday, October ...
Breaking Biology Technology: