Childhood and later life stressors and increased inflammatory gene expression at older ages.

TitleChildhood and later life stressors and increased inflammatory gene expression at older ages.
Publication TypeJournal Article
Year of Publication2015
AuthorsLevine ME, Cole SW, Weir DR, Crimmins EM
JournalSoc Sci Med
Date Published2015 Apr
KeywordsAdolescent, Age Factors, Aged, Aged, 80 and over, Body Mass Index, Continental Population Groups, Cyclooxygenase 2, Female, Health Status, Health Surveys, Humans, Interleukin-1beta, Interleukin-8, Life Change Events, Male, Middle Aged, Obesity, RNA, Sex Factors, Smoking, Socioeconomic Factors, Stress, Psychological

Adverse experiences in early life have the ability to "get under the skin" and affect future health. This study examined the relative influence of adversities during childhood and adulthood in accounting for individual differences in pro-inflammatory gene expression in late life. Using a pilot-sample from the Health and Retirement Study (N = 114) aged from 51 to 95, OLS regression models were run to determine the association between a composite score from three proinflammatory gene expression levels (PTGS2, ILIB, and IL8) and 1) childhood trauma, 2) childhood SES, 3) childhood health, 4) adult traumas, and 5) low SES in adulthood. Our results showed that only childhood trauma was found to be associated with increased inflammatory transcription in late life. Furthermore, examination of interaction effects showed that childhood trauma exacerbated the influence of low SES in adulthood on elevated levels of inflammatory gene expression-signifying that having low SES in adulthood was most damaging for persons who had experienced traumatic events during their childhood. Overall our study suggests that traumas experienced during childhood may alter the stress response, leading to more sensitive reactivity throughout the lifespan. As a result, individuals who experienced greater adversity in early life may be at higher risk of late life health outcomes, particularly if adulthood adversity related to SES persists.

Alternate JournalSoc Sci Med
PubMed ID25658624
PubMed Central IDPMC4394113
Grant ListP30 AG017265 / AG / NIA NIH HHS / United States
R24 AG037898 / AG / NIA NIH HHS / United States
T32 AG000037 / AG / NIA NIH HHS / United States
U01 AG009740 / AG / NIA NIH HHS / United States