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Neuroscience. 2014 Apr 4;264:142-56. doi: 10.1016/j.neuroscience.2013.07.069. Epub 2013 Aug 8.

DNA methylation and childhood maltreatment: from animal models to human studies.

Author information

1
McGill Group for Suicide Studies, Douglas Mental Health University Institute, Montréal, Québec, Canada.
2
McGill Group for Suicide Studies, Douglas Mental Health University Institute, Montréal, Québec, Canada. Electronic address: gustavo.turecki@mcgill.ca.

Abstract

Childhood maltreatment (CM) has estimated prevalence among Western societies between 10% and 15%. As CM associates with increased risk of several psychiatric disorders, early age of illness onset, increased comorbidity and negative clinical outcome, it imposes a major public health, social and economic impact. Although the clinical consequences of CM are well characterized, a major challenge remains to understand how negative early-life events can affect brain function over extended periods of time. We review here both animal and human studies indicating that the epigenetic mechanism of DNA methylation is a crucial mediator of early-life experiences, thereby maintaining life-long neurobiological sequelae of CM, and strongly determining psychopathological risk.

KEYWORDS:

DNA methylation; childhood maltreatment; epigenetic; glucocorticoid receptor; maternal care; stress

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