How do stressful experiences that happen in early life have such powerful direct effects on poor health decades later? When and how do these experiences become biologically embedded? To address this question, we are following a 1994-95 birth cohort of 2,232 twins (the E-Risk Study). The cohort is well- characterized, environmentally and phenotypically, with assessments at birth, 2,5,7,10,12, and 18 years, and has a dedicated biobank. Our research focuses on exposure to violence, one of the most common and severe sources of human stress. We begin by compiling cumulative dossiers of violence exposure in childhood and adolescence, including child maltreatment, sexual abuse, domestic violence, peer victimization, dating violence, and conventional crime. We then test the hypothesis that young people who are exposed to violence in childhood and adolescence will, by young adulthood, show compromised neuropsychological functioning, telomere erosion, and differential expression and epigenetic regulation of genes involved in the coordination of the stress response and the regulation of immune and inflammatory reactions. A key need in this research is for violence exposure to be disentangled from associated risk factors, including poverty, parents'mental health, and genetic liability. Analyses with the E-Risk cohort will isolat these effects of violence exposure by (a) comparing twins who are discordant for violence exposure on their psychobiological outcomes, (b) studying within-individual changes in psychobiological outcomes, using each child as his or her own control, and ultimately (c) identifying protective factors that mitigate biological embedding of exposure to violence. The E- Risk Study will be the first major developmental-longitudinal cohort study to bring together detailed assessments of multiple kinds of exposure to violence and multiple stress biomarkers, in order to characterize the mechanisms through which violence-exposed children may acquire lasting vulnerability to disease.

Public Health Relevance

The proposed research aims to uncover the genomic, biological and behavioral mechanisms that account for the enduring disease vulnerability of violence-exposed children and adolescents and to suggest effective interventions before onset of clinical disease.

National Institute of Health (NIH)
Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health & Human Development (NICHD)
Research Project (R01)
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Special Emphasis Panel (ZRG1-PSE-K (02))
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Maholmes, Valerie
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Duke University
Schools of Arts and Sciences
United States
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Moffitt, Terrie E (2018) Male antisocial behaviour in adolescence and beyond. Nat Hum Behav 2:177-186
Beckley, Amber L; Caspi, Avshalom; Arseneault, Louise et al. (2018) The Developmental Nature of the Victim-Offender Overlap. J Dev Life Course Criminol 4:24-49
Baldwin, Jessie R; Arseneault, Louise; Caspi, Avshalom et al. (2018) Childhood victimization and inflammation in young adulthood: A genetically sensitive cohort study. Brain Behav Immun 67:211-217
Newbury, Joanne; Arseneault, Louise; Caspi, Avshalom et al. (2018) Cumulative Effects of Neighborhood Social Adversity and Personal Crime Victimization on Adolescent Psychotic Experiences. Schizophr Bull 44:348-358
Marzi, Sarah J; Sugden, Karen; Arseneault, Louise et al. (2018) Analysis of DNA Methylation in Young People: Limited Evidence for an Association Between Victimization Stress and Epigenetic Variation in Blood. Am J Psychiatry 175:517-529
Wertz, Jasmin; Agnew-Blais, Jessica; Caspi, Avshalom et al. (2018) From Childhood Conduct Problems to Poor Functioning at Age 18 Years: Examining Explanations in a Longitudinal Cohort Study. J Am Acad Child Adolesc Psychiatry 57:54-60.e4
Schaefer, Jonathan D; Moffitt, Terrie E; Arseneault, Louise et al. (2018) Adolescent Victimization and Early-Adult Psychopathology: Approaching Causal Inference Using a Longitudinal Twin Study to Rule Out Noncausal Explanations. Clin Psychol Sci 6:352-371
Belsky, Daniel W; Domingue, Benjamin W; Wedow, Robbee et al. (2018) Genetic analysis of social-class mobility in five longitudinal studies. Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A 115:E7275-E7284
Caspi, Avshalom; Moffitt, Terrie E (2018) All for One and One for All: Mental Disorders in One Dimension. Am J Psychiatry 175:831-844
Wertz, J; Caspi, A; Belsky, D W et al. (2018) Genetics and Crime: Integrating New Genomic Discoveries Into Psychological Research About Antisocial Behavior. Psychol Sci 29:791-803

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