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The impact of maternal care on cortisol levels and on the offspring brain's volume whose mothers were victims of childhood adversities

Grant number: 23/01245-9
Support Opportunities:Scholarships in Brazil - Scientific Initiation
Effective date (Start): March 01, 2023
Effective date (End): February 29, 2024
Field of knowledge:Health Sciences - Medicine - Psychiatry
Acordo de Cooperação: National Institutes of Health (NIH)
Principal Investigator:Andrea Parolin Jackowski
Grantee:Larissa Melo Marques de Sousa
Host Institution: Escola Paulista de Medicina (EPM). Universidade Federal de São Paulo (UNIFESP). Campus São Paulo. São Paulo , SP, Brazil
Associated research grant:19/21612-0 - Maternal adversity, inflammation, and neurodevelopment: how intergenerational processes perpetuate disadvantage in a low-resource setting, AP.TEM


Exposure to adverse events in childhood (emotional and physical abuse by parents, multiple episodes of violence and sexual abuse) is associated with deleterious effects on the development of children and adolescents, low functioning, cognitive deficits and predict the development of depressive and anxiety disorders throughout life. There is increasing evidence that exposure to early stressors may confer risk for psychopathology through epigenetic mechanisms. There is emerging evidence suggesting that the neurobiological effects of stress vary at different stages of development. Stress during the period of pregnancy, or prenatal stress, is associated with multiple of these negative outcomes in the lives of babies, and in the form of exposure to chronic or acute stressors, such as violence, depression and/or anxiety, can influence the fetal development in different ways. Cortisol is a steroid hormone produced in limit and stress situations, and is directly involved in the response to fight and flight situations, hence known as the "stress hormone". In high doses in the body, cortisol has a harmful action, leading to a chronic concentration of high values of this hormone in the blood, and triggering constant stress levels, increased irritability and changes related to the deterioration of metabolism. However, the influence of early stress, cortisol levels and the baby's gender, during the period of fetal development and in the first year of life have not yet been fully elucidated. In addition to the effects that ACEs have on the directly exposed individual, the characteristics present in the parent who was exposed to ACEs can be transmitted to their offspring, characterizing an intergenerational transmission mechanism of trauma. The possible trauma transmission mechanisms are diverse, such as genetic, hormonal, neurobiological, among others. One such mechanism is the quality of mother-infant interaction (QIMB). It is known that exposure to maternal adversities in childhood can affect the quality of mother-baby interaction and significantly alter the neurodevelopment of the offspring. (AU)

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