Childhood abuse, promoter methylation of leukocyte NR3C1 and the potential modifying effect of emotional support

Written by Shields AE, Wise LA, Ruiz-Narvaez EA et al.

Over the past decade, several epigenetics studies have emerged linking various forms of childhood adversity with an altered hypothalamic–pituitary–adrenal axis stress response in humans [1,2]. Among the genes in the stress pathway, the glucocorticoid receptor gene, NR3C1, has been shown to be hypermethylated in response to various forms of early life psychosocial stress, such as physical or emotional abuse [3] or parental loss [4]. Increased methylation of NR3C1 is associated with a range of deleterious outcomes, including depression [5], borderline personality disorder [6,7] and cancer [8–10]. Nearly all methylation studies conducted on NR3C1 have focused on the CpG island located...

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