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Pediatr Int. 2016 Feb;58(2):105-12. doi: 10.1111/ped.12767.

Immune system changes after sexual abuse in adolescents.

Author information

1
Department of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry, Istanbul Medical Faculty, Istanbul University, Istanbul, Turkey.
2
Department of Immunology, Institute for Experimental Medicine (DETAE), Istanbul University, Istanbul, Turkey.
3
Department of Pediatrics, Istanbul Memorial Hospital, Istanbul, Turkey.

Abstract

BACKGROUND:

The immunological changes in diseases such as rheumatoid arthritis and multiple sclerosis have been found to be similar to the immunological changes in adults with post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). The biological consequences of and immunological disruptions associated with psychological trauma in sexually abused adolescents were investigated in this study.

METHODS:

Number of peripheral blood cells, intracellular cytokine level and cytotoxic activity of natural killer cells were measured on routine blood examination samples in adolescents aged 13-18 referred to the outpatient unit for forensic evaluation. Forty-three adolescents (patients with present/lifetime PTSD [PTSD-P/PTSD-L] associated with a history of childhood sexual abuse, n = 33; and 10 controls) were evaluated.

RESULTS:

Eosinophil percentage was high (P < 0.05), whereas stimulated intracellular interferon-γ was low (P < 0.05) in adolescents with PTSD-L compared with the control group. In PTSD-P patients exposed to repeated sexual abuse, CD3(+) HLA-DR(+) T-lymphocyte count was low (P < 0.05) compared with those with one-time sexual abuse.

CONCLUSION:

The increase in some immune system parameters and the decrease in several others, suggests a dysregulation of the immune system related to trauma in adolescents. Dysregulation of the immune system is known to cause autoimmune and chronic disease.

KEYWORDS:

adolescent; immune system; post-traumatic stress disorder; sexual abuse; trauma

PMID:
26224367
DOI:
10.1111/ped.12767
[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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