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Childhood maltreatment and DNA methylation: a systematic review

Childhood maltreatment and DNA methylation: a systematic review
Childhood maltreatment and DNA methylation: a systematic review

DNA methylation (DNAm) – an epigenetic process that regulates gene expression – may represent a mechanism for the biological embedding of early traumatic experiences, including childhood maltreatment. Here, we conducted the first systematic review of human studies linking childhood maltreatment to DNAm. In total, 72 studies were included in the review (2008–2018). The majority of extant studies (i) were based on retrospective data in adults, (ii) employed a candidate gene approach (iii) focused on global maltreatment, (iv) were based on easily accessible peripheral tissues, typically blood; and (v) were cross-sectional. Two-thirds of studies (n = 48) also examined maltreatment-related outcomes, such as stress reactivity and psychiatric symptoms. While findings generally support an association between childhood maltreatment and altered patterns of DNAm, factors such as the lack of longitudinal data, low comparability across studies as well as potential genetic and ‘pre-exposure’ environmental confounding currently limit the conclusions that can be drawn. Key challenges are discussed and concrete recommendations for future research are provided to move the field forward.

Abuse, Child maltreatment, DNA methylation, Epigenetic, Neglect
0149-7634
392-409
Cecil, Charlotte
04bdc6dd-3ebe-43bf-a87d-d61ae5e94324
Zhang, Yuning
d04a3a32-daa7-4441-8bdf-9bbaeb44583f
Nolte, Tobias
da8570f4-d540-4d59-94d0-fbab621eeeb8
Cecil, Charlotte
04bdc6dd-3ebe-43bf-a87d-d61ae5e94324
Zhang, Yuning
d04a3a32-daa7-4441-8bdf-9bbaeb44583f
Nolte, Tobias
da8570f4-d540-4d59-94d0-fbab621eeeb8

Cecil, Charlotte, Zhang, Yuning and Nolte, Tobias (2020) Childhood maltreatment and DNA methylation: a systematic review. Neuroscience & Biobehavioral Reviews, 112, 392-409. (doi:10.1016/j.neubiorev.2020.02.019).

Record type: Review

Abstract

DNA methylation (DNAm) – an epigenetic process that regulates gene expression – may represent a mechanism for the biological embedding of early traumatic experiences, including childhood maltreatment. Here, we conducted the first systematic review of human studies linking childhood maltreatment to DNAm. In total, 72 studies were included in the review (2008–2018). The majority of extant studies (i) were based on retrospective data in adults, (ii) employed a candidate gene approach (iii) focused on global maltreatment, (iv) were based on easily accessible peripheral tissues, typically blood; and (v) were cross-sectional. Two-thirds of studies (n = 48) also examined maltreatment-related outcomes, such as stress reactivity and psychiatric symptoms. While findings generally support an association between childhood maltreatment and altered patterns of DNAm, factors such as the lack of longitudinal data, low comparability across studies as well as potential genetic and ‘pre-exposure’ environmental confounding currently limit the conclusions that can be drawn. Key challenges are discussed and concrete recommendations for future research are provided to move the field forward.

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Accepted/In Press date: 15 February 2020
e-pub ahead of print date: 17 February 2020
Published date: May 2020
Additional Information: Funding Information: The work of CC has received funding from the European Union’s Horizon 2020 Research and Innovation Programme under the Marie Skłodowska-Curie grant agreement No 707404 and grant agreement No 848158 (EarlyCause Project). YZ is supported by the International Postdoctoral Exchange Fellowship from the China Postdoctoral Science Foundation . TN was supported by a Wellcome Trust Principal Research Fellowship ( 091188/Z/10/Z ) to P. Read Montague. We would like to thank Julia Griem for her help in compiling part of the data. Publisher Copyright: © 2020 The Authors
Keywords: Abuse, Child maltreatment, DNA methylation, Epigenetic, Neglect

Identifiers

Local EPrints ID: 438552
URI: http://eprints.soton.ac.uk/id/eprint/438552
ISSN: 0149-7634
PURE UUID: 1a1d0a91-a1c8-452c-a840-07d643b37eae
ORCID for Yuning Zhang: ORCID iD orcid.org/0000-0003-2225-6368

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Date deposited: 16 Mar 2020 17:35
Last modified: 02 Sep 2022 02:00

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Contributors

Author: Charlotte Cecil
Author: Yuning Zhang ORCID iD
Author: Tobias Nolte

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