Biological memory of childhood maltreatment: current knowledge and recommendations for future research.

Abstract

Child maltreatment (CM) not only has detrimental and lifelong psychological consequences, but also can lead to lasting alterations in core physiological systems--a biological memory of CM. Furthermore, some of these alterations might even be transmitted to the next generation. This article describes current knowledge about the effects of CM on the stress system (i.e., the hypothalamus-pituitary-adrenal axis), on cellular aging (i.e., telomere length and telomerase activity), and on the immune system. Furthermore, we want to initiate research on the question of transmission of the described physiological alterations subsequent to CM to the next generation--possibly through epigenetic imprinting. As diverse neurobiological factors and epigenetics are closely linked, these different research fields should join forces to gain a deeper understanding of the biological determinants and sequelae of CM and its transmission.

DOI: 10.1111/j.1749-6632.2012.06617.x

Cite this paper

@article{Schury2012BiologicalMO, title={Biological memory of childhood maltreatment: current knowledge and recommendations for future research.}, author={Katharina Schury and Iris-Tatjana Kolassa}, journal={Annals of the New York Academy of Sciences}, year={2012}, volume={1262}, pages={93-100} }