Epigenetic mechanisms activated by childhood adversity

Bernardo J. Krause, Rocio Artigas, Andres F. Sciolla, James Hamilton

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

3 Scopus citations


Adverse childhood experiences (ACE) impair health and life expectancy and may result in an epigenetic signature that drives increased morbidity primed during early stages of life. This literature review focuses on the current evidence for epigenetic-mediated programming of brain and immune function resulting from ACE. To address this aim, a total of 88 articles indexed in PubMed before August 2019 concerning ACE and epigenetics were surveyed. Current evidence partially supports epigenetic programming of the hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal axis, but convincingly shows that ACE impairs immune function. Additionally, the needs and challenges that face this area are discussed in order to provide a framework that may help to clarify the role of epigenetics in the long-lasting effects of ACE.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1239-1255
Number of pages17
Issue number14
StatePublished - Jul 2020


  • abuse
  • adversity
  • childhood trauma
  • chronic diseases
  • epigenetics

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Genetics
  • Cancer Research


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