The researchers report that a traumatic experience changes the composition of the blood of mice and humans. In a model on mice, potentially harmful effects on health would also be transmitted to the offspring of the animals.
Traumatic experiences in childhood also have an effect on the next generations, according to the surprising results of a study involving researchers from the University of Zurich. The study was published in the English language journal “The EMBO Journal”.
A childhood trauma leads to a change in the blood composition, which even seems to be transmitted to the offspring. This suggests that bad events in childhood not only have an impact on the own psyche, but also lead to changes in blood factors with potentially harmful effects on the health of future generations.
How are triggered signals embedded in germ cells?
Effects of trauma on offspring
The researchers were particularly interested in how signals triggered by trauma are embedded in the germ cells, which is a prerequisite for passing them on to the next generation. The team investigated the hypothesis that blood components play an important role in this process. And indeed, the experts were able to prove that traumatic experiences in childhood influence the composition of the blood throughout life and that changes are even inherited by offspring.
This result is highly relevant for medicine because it is the first time that early traumas have been linked to metabolic diseases in offspring, explain the researchers. To determine whether these early experiences have an effect on blood composition, a comprehensive analysis was conducted. The research team found numerous significant differences between the blood of traumatized animals and normally reared mice from the control group.
Childhood trauma changes the blood
When the blood of traumatized animals was injected into non-traumatized male mice, the offspring of these animals also developed symptoms of trauma. This is important evidence that the blood carries stress messages to the germ cells, the team explains.
In the mouse model for childhood trauma, effects were passed on from traumatized males to their male offspring. Changes in fat metabolism were also particularly noticeable. For example, polyunsaturated fatty acids were present in higher concentrations after trauma. The same changes could be observed in the offspring of affected males, the researchers report.
Thus the research group examined whether similar effects can occur also with humans. To this end, the blood and saliva of 25 children from a Pakistani SOS Children’s Village were analyzed. The children’s father had died and they had grown up separately from their mother. Compared to children from intact families, several factors of fat metabolism were actually increased in the orphans.
The team also discovered another molecular mechanism by which the factors of fat metabolism transmit signals to the germ cells, in which the so-called PPAR receptor on the cell surface plays a key role. This is activated by fatty acids and regulates gene expression and DNA structure in many tissues, the team explained.
“The traumatic experiences of these children are very similar to our mouse model and their metabolism shows similar blood changes,” reports study author neuroepigenetics professor Isabelle Mansuy from the Brain Research Institute of the University of Zurich and the Institute of Neuroscience at ETH Zurich in a press release.
WashingtonNewsday Health and Wellness.