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Posttraumatic stress disorder, adverse childhood events, and buccal cell telomere length in elderly swiss former indentured child laborers


Küffer, Andreas L; Maercker, Andreas; Burri, Andrea; O'Donovan, Aoife (2016). Posttraumatic stress disorder, adverse childhood events, and buccal cell telomere length in elderly swiss former indentured child laborers. Frontiers in Psychiatry:7:147.

Abstract

Posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) is associated with increased risk for age-related diseases and early mortality. Accelerated biological aging could contribute to this elevated risk. The aim of the present study was to assess buccal cell telomere length (BTL) - a proposed marker of biological age - in men and women with and without PTSD. The role of childhood trauma was assessed as a potential additional risk factor for shorter telomere length. The sample included 62 former indentured Swiss child laborers (age: M = 76.19, SD = 6.18) and 58 healthy controls (age: M = 71.85, SD = 5.97). Structured clinical interviews were conducted to screen for PTSD and other psychiatric disorders. The Childhood Trauma Questionnaire (CTQ) was used to assess childhood trauma exposure. Quantitative polymerase chain reaction was used to measure BTL. Covariates include age, sex, years of education, self-evaluated financial situation, depression, and mental and physical functioning. Forty-eight (77.42%) of the former indentured child laborers screened positive for childhood trauma, and 21 (33.87%) had partial or full-blown PTSD. Results did not support our hypotheses that PTSD and childhood trauma would be associated with shorter BTL. In fact, results revealed a trend toward longer BTL in participants with partial or full PTSD [F(2,109) = 3.27, p = 0.04, η(2) = 0.06], and longer BTL was marginally associated with higher CTQ scores (age adjusted: β = 0.17 [95% CI: -0.01 to 0.35], t = 1.90, p = 0.06). Furthermore, within-group analyses indicated no significant association between BTL and CTQ scores. To the best of our knowledge, this is the first study exploring the association between childhood trauma and BTL in older individuals with and without PTSD. Contrary to predictions, there were no significant differences in BTL between participants with and without PTSD in our adjusted analyses, and childhood adversity was not associated with BTL. Possible explanations and future research possibilities are discussed.

Abstract

Posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) is associated with increased risk for age-related diseases and early mortality. Accelerated biological aging could contribute to this elevated risk. The aim of the present study was to assess buccal cell telomere length (BTL) - a proposed marker of biological age - in men and women with and without PTSD. The role of childhood trauma was assessed as a potential additional risk factor for shorter telomere length. The sample included 62 former indentured Swiss child laborers (age: M = 76.19, SD = 6.18) and 58 healthy controls (age: M = 71.85, SD = 5.97). Structured clinical interviews were conducted to screen for PTSD and other psychiatric disorders. The Childhood Trauma Questionnaire (CTQ) was used to assess childhood trauma exposure. Quantitative polymerase chain reaction was used to measure BTL. Covariates include age, sex, years of education, self-evaluated financial situation, depression, and mental and physical functioning. Forty-eight (77.42%) of the former indentured child laborers screened positive for childhood trauma, and 21 (33.87%) had partial or full-blown PTSD. Results did not support our hypotheses that PTSD and childhood trauma would be associated with shorter BTL. In fact, results revealed a trend toward longer BTL in participants with partial or full PTSD [F(2,109) = 3.27, p = 0.04, η(2) = 0.06], and longer BTL was marginally associated with higher CTQ scores (age adjusted: β = 0.17 [95% CI: -0.01 to 0.35], t = 1.90, p = 0.06). Furthermore, within-group analyses indicated no significant association between BTL and CTQ scores. To the best of our knowledge, this is the first study exploring the association between childhood trauma and BTL in older individuals with and without PTSD. Contrary to predictions, there were no significant differences in BTL between participants with and without PTSD in our adjusted analyses, and childhood adversity was not associated with BTL. Possible explanations and future research possibilities are discussed.

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Additional indexing

Item Type:Journal Article, refereed, original work
Communities & Collections:06 Faculty of Arts > Institute of Psychology
08 University Research Priority Programs > Dynamics of Healthy Aging
Dewey Decimal Classification:150 Psychology
Language:English
Date:2016
Deposited On:26 Aug 2016 09:21
Last Modified:04 Aug 2017 14:38
Publisher:Frontiers Research Foundation
ISSN:1664-0640
Free access at:PubMed ID. An embargo period may apply.
Publisher DOI:https://doi.org/10.3389/fpsyt.2016.00147
PubMed ID:27630582

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