Childhood maltreatment (CM) is all too frequent among western societies, with an estimated prevalence of 10 to
15%. CM associates with increased risk of several psychiatric disorders, and therefore represents a worrying public and socioeconomic
burden. While associated clinical outcomes are well characterized, determining by which mechanisms early-life adverse
experiences affect mental health over the lifespan is a major challenge. Epigenetic mechanisms, in particular DNA methylation,
represent a form of molecular memory that may modify brain function over extended periods of time, as well as serve as
a bio-marker of behavioral phenotypes associated with CM. Here, we review human studies suggesting that DNA methylation
is a crucial substrate mediating neurobiological consequences of CM throughout life, thereby potentiating maladaptive behavioral patterns
and psychopathological risk.
Keywords: DNA methylation, epigenetics, early-life adversity, childhood maltreatment, stress.
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