Send to

Choose Destination
Curr Pharm Des. 2015;21(11):1413-7.

Childhood maltreatment and stress-related psychopathology: the epigenetic memory hypothesis.

Author information

McGill Group for Suicide Studies, Douglas Mental Health University Institute, McGill University, 6875 LaSalle Boulevard, Verdun, Quebec, Canada, H4H 1R3.


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.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]
Free PMC Article

Supplemental Content

Full text links

Icon for Bentham Science Publishers Ltd. Icon for PubMed Central
Loading ...
Support Center