Researchers Find Biological Markers for Childhood Maltreatment

Adult victims of childhood maltreatment (CM), including abuse and neglect, report a poorer life quality and overall health.  They are at a higher risk to develop conditions such as major depressive disorder (MDD) and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).

What if there was a definitive medical test to identify individuals at risk?

Researchers in Germany and Australia studied blood serum samples from more than 100 post-partum women with varying degrees of CM history.  Using an Agilent LC/MS system, the researchers were able to identify eight biomarkers that differentiated women with and without CM.

These biomarker signatures could serve as “metabolite fingerprints.”  They are associated with antioxidant, lipid and endocannabinoid pathways in the body.  Similar pathways have been observed in chronic stress and trauma-related conditions (including MDD and PTSD).

This study strengthens the hypothesis that CM affects biomolecular pathways that might increase the biochemical vulnerability for mental health conditions later in life.  This deeper understanding of underlying biomolecular processes could help identify individuals at risk and lead to preventative interventions.

Thanks to Dr. Alexander Karabatsiakis, lead author of the study, for his help with today’s post!

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