Early-life exposure to famine and late-life depression: Does leukocyte telomere length mediate the association?
BACKGROUND: A positive association between early-life famine exposure and depression has been demonstrated. However, the mechanisms by which famine exposure in early life leads to late-life depression remains unclear. The present study examines the impact of leukocyte telomere length (LTL) and/or religiosity on the relationship between early-life famine exposure and late-life depression in a Chinese minority sample. METHODS: A cross-sectional study of community-dwelling adults aged 55 or older was conducted in the Ningxia province of western China from 2013 to 2016. Multivariate ordinal logistic regression was used to examine the association between famine exposure and depression status, and a series mediation model was constructed to identify the mediation role of LTL and religiosity. RESULTS: Compared with famine exposure during adulthood, fetal famine exposure was associated with a higher risk of late-life depression (adjusted odds ratio of 3.17, 95% CI: 1.36-7.38). A cumulative effect of fetal famine exposure on the risk of late-life depression was observed. Participants born in 1961 (the third year of the famine) had the strongest association with late-life depression. LTL played a mediating role in the association between famine exposure and depression which accounted for 21% of the total effect. LIMITATIONS: The cross-sectional design prevents causal inferences regarding the relationships between famine and depression. CONCLUSIONS: Fetal famine exposure was associated with an increased risk of late-life depression in a Chinese minority community-dwelling population. Telomere shortening partially mediated this association.
He, S; Li, J; Wang, Z; Wang, L; Liu, L; Sun, X; Shohaib, SA; Koenig, HG
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