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Rigshospitalet - a part of Copenhagen University Hospital

Intergenerational effects of maternal post-traumatic stress disorder on offspring epigenetic patterns and cortisol levels

Research output: Contribution to journalJournal articleResearchpeer-review


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  • Line Hjort
  • Feride Rushiti
  • Shr Jie Wang
  • Peter Fransquet
  • Sebahate P Krasniqi
  • Selvi I Çarkaxhiu
  • Dafina Arifaj
  • Vjosa Devaja Xhemaili
  • Mimoza Salihu
  • Nazmie A Leku
  • Joanne Ryan
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Aim: To investigate the association between maternal post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) during pregnancy and offspring DNA methylation and cortisol levels. Materials & methods: Blood genome-wide DNA methylation and cortisol was measured in the youngest child of 117 women who experienced sexual violence/torture during the Kosovo war. Results: Seventy-two percent of women had PTSD symptoms during pregnancy. Their children had higher cortisol levels and differential methylation at candidate genes (NR3C1, HTR3A and BNDF). No methylation differences reached epigenome-wide corrected significance levels. Conclusion: Identifying the biological processes whereby the negative effects of trauma are passed across generations and defining groups at high risk is a key step to breaking the intergenerational transmission of the effects of mental disorders.

Original languageEnglish
Issue number12
Pages (from-to)967-980
Number of pages14
Publication statusPublished - Jun 2021

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2021

    Research areas

  • cortisol, DNA methylation, epigenetics, intergenerational, maternal stress, offspring, PTSD

ID: 69222844