Childhood Maltreatment and Stress-Related Psychopathology: The Epigenetic Memory Hypothesis

Author(s): Pierre-Eric Lutz, Daniel Almeida, Laura M. Fiori, Gustavo Turecki

Journal Name: Current Pharmaceutical Design

Volume 21 , Issue 11 , 2015

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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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Article Details

Year: 2015
Published on: 15 February, 2015
Page: [1413 - 1417]
Pages: 5
DOI: 10.2174/1381612821666150105124928
Price: $65

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