Early neglect is a key determinant of adult hair cortisol concentration and is associated with increased vulnerability to trauma in a transdiagnostic sample

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2019
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Psychoneuroendocrinology ; 108 (2019). - pp. 35-42. - ISSN 0306-4530. - eISSN 1873-3360
Abstract
Background:
Childhood adversities and traumatic events have each been associated with hypothalamus-pituitary-adrenal (HPA) axis dysregulation and trauma-related symptoms in adulthood. Hair cortisol concentration (HCC) reflects cumulative cortisol levels over the course of months and is discussed as a potential marker between trauma-induced neuroendocrine dysfunction and trauma-related symptoms. The present study examines this hypothetical link by delineating the impact of exposure to categories of abuse and neglect during development and lifetime traumatic experiences on HCC and trauma-related symptoms.

Methods:
The Maltreatment and Abuse Chronology Exposure (MACE) scale, Life Events Checklist, and predictive analytics were used to evaluate the importance of type and timing of maltreatment and trauma load on HCC in inpatients (n = 183) with different psychiatric diagnoses. Additionally, a comparison group of n = 75 controls were recruited from the community. The extent to which the relationship between trauma load and trauma-related symptoms was influenced by childhood adversities and HCC was determined by analysis of variance.

Results:
Early neglect, in particular neglect at 3 years, emerged as the most important predictor of adult HCC. Post-hoc explanatory analysis showed that patients with high neglect at age 3 had lower HCC compared to patients with low neglect at age 3 and controls. Patients with high neglect at age 3 and low cortisol reported increased trauma-related symptoms upon trauma exposure.

Conclusion:
Results strengthen evidence that inadequate care and neglect during critical periods alter HPA axis biology towards enduring reduction in cortisol, the latter being associated with augmented trauma-related symptoms upon trauma exposure. If validated by longitudinal assessments these cross-sectional findings suggest biological mechanisms of childhood adversities into psychopathology in adulthood.
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150 Psychology
Keywords
Childhood adversities, Sensitive period, Hair cortisol concentration, Trauma-Related symptoms
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Cite This
ISO 690SCHALINSKI, Inga, Martin H. TEICHER, Brigitte ROCKSTROH, 2019. Early neglect is a key determinant of adult hair cortisol concentration and is associated with increased vulnerability to trauma in a transdiagnostic sample. In: Psychoneuroendocrinology. 108, pp. 35-42. ISSN 0306-4530. eISSN 1873-3360. Available under: doi: 10.1016/j.psyneuen.2019.06.007
BibTex
@article{Schalinski2019-06-13Early-46183,
  year={2019},
  doi={10.1016/j.psyneuen.2019.06.007},
  title={Early neglect is a key determinant of adult hair cortisol concentration and is associated with increased vulnerability to trauma in a transdiagnostic sample},
  volume={108},
  issn={0306-4530},
  journal={Psychoneuroendocrinology},
  pages={35--42},
  author={Schalinski, Inga and Teicher, Martin H. and Rockstroh, Brigitte}
}
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    <dcterms:abstract xml:lang="eng">Background:&lt;br /&gt;Childhood adversities and traumatic events have each been associated with hypothalamus-pituitary-adrenal (HPA) axis dysregulation and trauma-related symptoms in adulthood. Hair cortisol concentration (HCC) reflects cumulative cortisol levels over the course of months and is discussed as a potential marker between trauma-induced neuroendocrine dysfunction and trauma-related symptoms. The present study examines this hypothetical link by delineating the impact of exposure to categories of abuse and neglect during development and lifetime traumatic experiences on HCC and trauma-related symptoms.&lt;br /&gt;&lt;br /&gt;Methods:&lt;br /&gt;The Maltreatment and Abuse Chronology Exposure (MACE) scale, Life Events Checklist, and predictive analytics were used to evaluate the importance of type and timing of maltreatment and trauma load on HCC in inpatients (n = 183) with different psychiatric diagnoses. Additionally, a comparison group of n = 75 controls were recruited from the community. The extent to which the relationship between trauma load and trauma-related symptoms was influenced by childhood adversities and HCC was determined by analysis of variance.&lt;br /&gt;&lt;br /&gt;Results:&lt;br /&gt;Early neglect, in particular neglect at 3 years, emerged as the most important predictor of adult HCC. Post-hoc explanatory analysis showed that patients with high neglect at age 3 had lower HCC compared to patients with low neglect at age 3 and controls. Patients with high neglect at age 3 and low cortisol reported increased trauma-related symptoms upon trauma exposure.&lt;br /&gt;&lt;br /&gt;Conclusion:&lt;br /&gt;Results strengthen evidence that inadequate care and neglect during critical periods alter HPA axis biology towards enduring reduction in cortisol, the latter being associated with augmented trauma-related symptoms upon trauma exposure. If validated by longitudinal assessments these cross-sectional findings suggest biological mechanisms of childhood adversities into psychopathology in adulthood.</dcterms:abstract>
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