Exposure to violence during childhood is associated with telomere erosion from 5 to 10 years of age: A longitudinal study

I. Shalev, T. E. Moffitt, K. Sugden, B. Williams, R. M. Houts, A. Danese, J. Mill, L. Arseneault, A. Caspi

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

245 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

There is increasing interest in discovering mechanisms that mediate the effects of childhood stress on late-life disease morbidity and mortality. Previous studies have suggested one potential mechanism linking stress to cellular aging, disease and mortality in humans: telomere erosion. We examined telomere erosion in relation to children's exposure to violence, a salient early-life stressor, which has known long-term consequences for well-being and is a major public-health and social-welfare problem. In the first prospective-longitudinal study with repeated telomere measurements in children while they experienced stress, we tested the hypothesis that childhood violence exposure would accelerate telomere erosion from age 5 to age 10 years. Violence was assessed as exposure to maternal domestic violence, frequent bullying victimization and physical maltreatment by an adult. Participants were 236 children (49% females; 42% with one or more violence exposures) recruited from the Environmental-Risk Longitudinal Twin Study, a nationally representative 1994-1995 birth cohort. Each child's mean relative telomere length was measured simultaneously in baseline and follow-up DNA samples, using the quantitative PCR method for T/S ratio (the ratio of telomere repeat copy numbers to single-copy gene numbers). Compared with their counterparts, the children who experienced two or more kinds of violence exposure showed significantly more telomere erosion between age-5 baseline and age-10 follow-up measurements, even after adjusting for sex, socioeconomic status and body mass index (B=-0.052, s.e.=0.021, P=0.015). This finding provides support for a mechanism linking cumulative childhood stress to telomere maintenance, observed already at a young age, with potential impact for life-long health.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)576-581
Number of pages6
JournalMolecular Psychiatry
Volume18
Issue number5
DOIs
StatePublished - May 1 2013

Fingerprint

Telomere
Longitudinal Studies
Maternal Exposure
Bullying
Twin Studies
Domestic Violence
Crime Victims
Gene Dosage
Mortality
Exposure to Violence
Social Welfare
Cell Aging
Social Problems
Violence
Social Class
Body Mass Index
Public Health
Maintenance
Parturition
Prospective Studies

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Molecular Biology
  • Psychiatry and Mental health
  • Cellular and Molecular Neuroscience

Cite this

Shalev, I. ; Moffitt, T. E. ; Sugden, K. ; Williams, B. ; Houts, R. M. ; Danese, A. ; Mill, J. ; Arseneault, L. ; Caspi, A. / Exposure to violence during childhood is associated with telomere erosion from 5 to 10 years of age : A longitudinal study. In: Molecular Psychiatry. 2013 ; Vol. 18, No. 5. pp. 576-581.
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Shalev, I, Moffitt, TE, Sugden, K, Williams, B, Houts, RM, Danese, A, Mill, J, Arseneault, L & Caspi, A 2013, 'Exposure to violence during childhood is associated with telomere erosion from 5 to 10 years of age: A longitudinal study', Molecular Psychiatry, vol. 18, no. 5, pp. 576-581. https://doi.org/10.1038/mp.2012.32

Exposure to violence during childhood is associated with telomere erosion from 5 to 10 years of age : A longitudinal study. / Shalev, I.; Moffitt, T. E.; Sugden, K.; Williams, B.; Houts, R. M.; Danese, A.; Mill, J.; Arseneault, L.; Caspi, A.

In: Molecular Psychiatry, Vol. 18, No. 5, 01.05.2013, p. 576-581.

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

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