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See detailA matter of habit? Stressful life events and cognitive flexibility in 15-month-olds
Tisborn, Katharina; Kumsta, Robert UL; Zmyj, Norbert et al

in Infant Behavior and Development (2023), 71 file://localhost/Users/robert.kumsta/Documents/Papers%20Library/Tisborn-A%20matter%20of%20habit-%20Stressful%20life%20events%20and%20cognitive%20flexibility%20in%2015-month-olds-2023-Infant%20Behavior%20and%20Development.pdf

Exposure to chronic stress is associated with habitual learning in adults. We studied the origins of this association by examining the link between stressful life events and infant cognitive flexibility ... [more ▼]

Exposure to chronic stress is associated with habitual learning in adults. We studied the origins of this association by examining the link between stressful life events and infant cognitive flexibility. The final sample consisted of N = 72 fifteen-month-old infants and their mothers. Mothers completed a survey on pre- and postnatal negative life events. To assess chronic stress physiologically, infant and maternal hair cortisol concentrations were determined for cortisol accumulation during the past 3 months. Each infant participated in two cognitive tasks in the laboratory. An instrumental learning task tested infants’ ability to disengage from a habituated action when this action became ineffective (Seehagen et al., 2015). An age-adequate version of the A-not-B task tested infants’ ability to find a toy at location B after repeatedly finding it at location A. Correlations between cortisol concentrations and postnatal negative life events (number, perceived impact) did not yield significance. Infant and maternal hair cortisol concentrations were not correlated. Infants’ ability to shift to a new action in either task, controlled for acute stress, correlated neither with pre- and postnatal negative life events nor with cortisol concentrations. Taken together, these results indicate that the potential link between long-term stress exposure and cognitive flexibility might not be present in samples with low levels of psychosocial stress. [less ▲]

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See detailProteome analysis of monocytes implicates altered mitochondrial biology in adults reporting adverse childhood experiences.
Zang, Johannes C. S.; May, Caroline; Hellwig, Birte et al

in Translational psychiatry (2023), 13(1), 31

The experience of adversity in childhood has been associated with poor health outcomes in adulthood. In search of the biological mechanisms underlying these effects, research so far focused on alterations ... [more ▼]

The experience of adversity in childhood has been associated with poor health outcomes in adulthood. In search of the biological mechanisms underlying these effects, research so far focused on alterations of DNA methylation or shifts in transcriptomic profiles. The level of protein, however, has been largely neglected. We utilized mass spectrometry to investigate the proteome of CD14(+) monocytes in healthy adults reporting childhood adversity and a control group before and after psychosocial stress exposure. Particular proteins involved in (i) immune processes, such as neutrophil-related proteins, (ii) protein metabolism, or (iii) proteins related to mitochondrial biology, such as those involved in energy production processes, were upregulated in participants reporting exposure to adversity in childhood. This functional triad was further corroborated by protein interaction- and co-expression analyses, was independent of stress exposure, i.e. observed at both pre- and post-stress time points, and became evident especially in females. In line with the mitochondrial allostatic load model, our findings provide evidence for the long-term effects of childhood adversity on mitochondrial biology. [less ▲]

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See detailNo evidence for intervention-associated DNA methylation changes in monocytes of patients with posttraumatic stress disorder.
Hummel, Elisabeth; Elgizouli, Magdeldin; Sicorello, Maurizio et al

in Scientific reports (2022), 12(1), 17347

DNA methylation patterns can be responsive to environmental influences. This observation has sparked interest in the potential for psychological interventions to influence epigenetic processes. Recent ... [more ▼]

DNA methylation patterns can be responsive to environmental influences. This observation has sparked interest in the potential for psychological interventions to influence epigenetic processes. Recent studies have observed correlations between DNA methylation changes and therapy outcome. However, most did not control for changes in cell composition. This study had two aims: first, we sought to replicate therapy-associated changes in DNA methylation of commonly assessed candidate genes in isolated monocytes from 60 female patients with post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). Our second, exploratory goal was to identify novel genomic regions with substantial pre-to-post intervention DNA methylation changes by performing whole-genome bisulfite sequencing (WGBS) in two patients with PTSD. Equivalence testing and Bayesian analyses provided evidence against physiologically meaningful intervention-associated DNA methylation changes in monocytes of PTSD patients in commonly investigated target genes (NR3C1, FKBP5, SLC6A4, OXTR). Furthermore, WGBS yielded only a limited set of candidate regions with suggestive evidence of differential DNA methylation pre- to post-therapy. These differential DNA methylation patterns did not prove replicable when investigated in the entire cohort. We conclude that there is no evidence for major, recurrent intervention-associated DNA methylation changes in the investigated genes in monocytes of patients with PTSD. [less ▲]

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See detailStudy protocol for a multi-center RCT testing a group-based parenting intervention tailored to mothers with borderline personality disorder against a waiting control group (ProChild*-SP1).
Rosenbach, Charlotte; Heinrichs, Nina; Kumsta, Robert UL et al

in Trials (2022), 23(1), 589

BACKGROUND/AIMS: Borderline personality disorder (BPD) is a severe mental disorder characterized by an unstable sense of self, intense and rapidly changing affect, as well as impulsive and self ... [more ▼]

BACKGROUND/AIMS: Borderline personality disorder (BPD) is a severe mental disorder characterized by an unstable sense of self, intense and rapidly changing affect, as well as impulsive and self-destructive behaviors. Interpersonal relationships of individuals with BPD are characterized by marked instability, a lack of dependability, and quick changes between love and hate. For children of individuals with BPD, this can lead to permanent stress and attachment insecurity and an increased risk of adverse physical and mental health development. To reduce dysfunctional parenting and improve positive parenting, and in turn, to promote healthy child development, a group intervention for mothers with BPD was developed. This study aims to evaluate this first disorder-specific parenting intervention for BPD in a randomized controlled trial. METHOD: In a parallel-group, two-arm, randomized controlled trial, an initial N = 178 mothers diagnosed with BPD and their children aged 6 months to 6 years are assigned to either the parenting intervention or a waiting control group. If taking place, participants of both groups continue their regular treatment for BPD diagnosis (e.g., individual therapy, medication). The primary outcomes are changes in parenting from baseline (day 0) to post intervention (week 12) and follow-up (6 months after group intervention; month 9). The waiting control group can attend the group intervention at the end of all assessments. Participants allocated to the intervention group are expected to show improvement in their parenting and a reduction in child abuse potential. Maternal emotion regulation and mental distress are analyzed as secondary outcomes. DISCUSSION: Mothers with BPD may need tailored help when reporting difficulties raising their children. The first disorder-specific parenting intervention has been developed to close this gap. ProChild is part of a large government-supported consortium, which aims to investigate different aspects of abuse and maltreatment in childhood and adolescence. TRIAL REGISTRATION: ClinicalTrials.gov NCT04169048 . Registered on Nov 19, 2019. [less ▲]

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See detailUrbanicity, behavior problems and HPA axis regulation in preschoolers
Effenberger, Pauline; Send, Tabea; Gilles, Maria et al

in Psychoneuroendocrinology (2022), 137

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See detailPrenatal exposure to endocrine disrupting chemicals is associated with altered DNA methylation in cord blood
Mattonet, Katharina; Nowack-Weyers, Nikola; Vogel, Vanessa et al

in Epigenetics (2022), 17(9), 935-952

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See detailMitochondrial DNA as a marker for treatment-response in post-traumatic stress disorder.
Hummel, E. M.; Piovesan, K.; Berg, F. et al

in Psychoneuroendocrinology (2022), 148

Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) is a serious mental health condition thought to be mediated by a dysregulated stress response system. Stress, especially chronic stress, affects mitochondrial ... [more ▼]

Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) is a serious mental health condition thought to be mediated by a dysregulated stress response system. Stress, especially chronic stress, affects mitochondrial activity and their efficiency in duplicating their genomes. Human cells contain numerous mitochondria that harbor multiple copies of their own genome, which consist of a mixture of wild type and variant mtDNA - a condition known as mitochondrial heteroplasmy. Number of mitochondrial genomes in a cell and the degree of heteroplasmy may serve as an indicator of mitochondrial allostatic load. Changes in mtDNA copy number and the proportion of variant mtDNA may be related to mental disorders and symptom severity, suggesting an involvement of mitochondrial dysfunction also in PTSD. Therefore, we examined number and composition of mitochondrial DNA before and after six weeks of inpatient psychotherapy treatment in a cohort of 60 female PTSD patients. We extracted DNA from isolated monocytes before and after inpatient treatment and quantified cellular mtDNA using multiplex qPCR. We hypothesized that treatment would lead to changes in cellular mtDNA levels and that change in mtDNA level would be associated with PTSD symptom severity and treatment response. It could be shown that mtDNA copy number and the ratio of variant mtDNA decreased during therapy, however, this change did not correlate with treatment response. Our results suggest that inpatient treatment can reduce signs of mitochondrial allostatic load, which could have beneficial effects on mental health. The quantification of mtDNA and the determination of cellular heteroplasmy could represent valuable biomarkers for the molecular characterization of mental disorders in the future. [less ▲]

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See detailLess efficient cognitive pain modulation in healthy older adults – the impact of executive functions, chronic stress, and physical activity
Heiler, Ann-Sophie; van der Meulen, Marian UL; Miltner, Wolfgang et al

in Heinrichs, Markus; Schönauer, Monika (Eds.) 47. Jahrestagung Psychologie und Gehirn (2022)

Demographic change and the associated increasing prevalence of chronic pain have contributed to increased research interest in the field of aging. Aging has been associated with less efficient pain ... [more ▼]

Demographic change and the associated increasing prevalence of chronic pain have contributed to increased research interest in the field of aging. Aging has been associated with less efficient pain inhibition through cognitive distraction. As pain modulation and executive functioning mainly involve the prefrontal cortical network, which shows age-related atrophy, we hypothesized an association between deteriorating cognitive modulation of pain in healthy older adults and reduced executive functions. As chronic stress can decrease executive functioning through prefrontal cortical impairment, we expected a negative impact on distraction from pain. In contrast, physical activity can have a stress-buffering effect and positively influences executive functions in older age. Therefore, increased physical activity should lead to better distraction from pain. Healthy young (18 -30 years) and older adults (65+ years) took part in a pain distraction paradigm (N-back) while receiving non-painful and moderately painful electric stimuli. Before, we examined executive functions, including response inhibition (Go/No-Go-task), inhibitory control (Stroop task), and working memory (Sternberg task). Additionally, chronic stress and physical activity were assessed using self-report questionnaires, supported by physiological measurements (heart rate variability). Preliminary results indicate a negative impact of chronic stress on distraction from pain particular in young participants, while physical fitness was related to more successful pain modulation in older adults. Our final results will contribute to a more differentiated view on executive functioning and pain modulation in aging, thereby leading to a better understanding of the impact of aging on non-pharmacological pain treatment and to better adapted pain therapies in this population. [less ▲]

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See detailGenes in treatment: Polygenic risk scores for different psychopathologies, neuroticism, educational attainment and IQ and the outcome of two different exposure-based fear treatments
Wannemüller, Andre; Kumsta, Robert UL; Jöhren, Hans-Peter et al

in World Journal of Biological Psychiatry (2021)

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See detailPolygenic scores for handedness and their association with asymmetries in brain structure
Ocklenburg, Sebastian; Metzen, Dorothea; Schlüter, Caroline et al

in Brain Structure and Function (2021)

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See detailPolygenic Scores for Cognitive Abilities and Their Association with Different Aspects of General Intelligence—A Deep Phenotyping Approach
Genç, E.; Schlüter, C.; Fraenz, C. et al

in Molecular Neurobiology (2021)

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See detailThe brain under stress—A systematic review and activation likelihood estimation meta-analysis of changes in BOLD signal associated with acute stress exposure
Berretz, G.; Packheiser, J.; Kumsta, Robert UL et al

in Neuroscience and Biobehavioral Reviews (2021), 124

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See detailThe role of the 5-HTTLPR polymorphism in acquired capability for suicide
Wannemueller, A.; Forkmann, T.; Glaesmer, H. et al

in Suicide and Life-Threatening Behavior (2020), 50(6), 1121-1126

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See detailAngiotensin involvement in trauma processing—exploring candidate neurocognitive mechanisms of preventing post-traumatic stress symptoms
Shkreli, L.; Woud, M. L.; Ramsbottom, R. et al

in Neuropsychopharmacology (2020), 45(3), 507-514

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See detailTargeted bisulfite sequencing: A novel tool for the assessment of DNA methylation with high sensitivity and increased coverage
Moser, D. A.; Müller, S.; Hummel, E. M. et al

in Psychoneuroendocrinology (2020), 120

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See detailEarly childhood deprivation is associated with alterations in adult brain structure despite subsequent environmental enrichment
Mackes, N. K.; Golm, D.; Sarkar, S. et al

in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America (2020), 117(1), 641-649

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See detailAdoptees' responses to separation from, and reunion with, their adoptive parent at age 4 years is associated with long-term persistence of autism symptoms following early severe institutional deprivation
Sonuga-Barke, E.; Kennedy, M.; Golm, D. et al

in Development and Psychopathology (2020), 32(2), 631-640

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See detailWhy does early childhood deprivation increase the risk for depression and anxiety in adulthood? A developmental cascade model
Golm, D.; Maughan, B.; Barker, E. D. et al

in Journal of Child Psychology and Psychiatry and Allied Disciplines (2020), 61(9), 1043-1053

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