Leptin deficiency in maltreated children.
Consistent with findings from experimental research in nonhuman primates exposed to early-life stress, children exposed to maltreatment are at high risk of detrimental physical health conditions, such as obesity and systemic inflammation. Because leptin is a key molecule involved in the regulation of both energy balance and immunity, we investigated abnormalities in leptin physiology among maltreated children. We measured leptin, body mass index and C-reactive protein in 170 12-year-old children members of the Environmental-Risk Longitudinal Twin Study, for whom we had prospectively-collected information on maltreatment exposure. We found that maltreated children exhibited blunted elevation in leptin levels in relation to increasing levels of physiological stimuli, adiposity and inflammation, compared with a group of non-maltreated children matched for gender, zygosity and socioeconomic status. These findings were also independent of key potential artifacts and confounders, such as time of day at sample collection, history of food insecurity, pubertal maturation and depressive symptoms. Furthermore, using birth weight as a proxy measure for leptin, we found that physiological abnormalities were presumably not present at birth in children who went on to be maltreated but only emerged over the course of childhood, after maltreatment exposure. Leptin deficiency may contribute to onset, persistence and progression of physical health problems in maltreated children.
Danese, A; Dove, R; Belsky, DW; Henchy, J; Williams, B; Ambler, A; Arseneault, L
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