Child Maltreatment and Inflammatory Response to Mental Stress among Adults Who Have Survived a Myocardial Infarction

Academic Article


  • Objective Experiences of child maltreatment are associated with cardiovascular risk and disease in adulthood; however, the mechanisms underlying these associations are poorly understood. Methods We examined associations between retrospectively self-reported exposure to child maltreatment (Early Trauma Inventory Self-Report Short Form) and inflammatory responses to mental stress among adults (mean age = 50 years) who recently had a myocardial infarction (n = 227). Inflammation was assessed as blood interleukin-6 (IL-6), matrix metalloproteinase-9 (MMP-9), and monocyte chemoattractant protein-1 concentrations, measured before and after a standardized public speaking stress task. We used mixed linear regression models adjusting for cardiovascular disease severity, medication usage, and psychosocial, demographic, and life-style factors. Results In women, increases in IL-6 levels and MMP-9 levels with stress were smaller in those exposed to sexual abuse, relative to those unexposed (IL-6 geometric mean increases = 1.6 [95% confidence interval {CI} = 1.4-1.9] pg/ml versus 2.1 [95% CI = 1.8-2.4] pg/ml; MMP-9 geometric mean increases = 1.0 [95% CI = 0.9-1.2] ng/ml versus 1.2 [95% CI = 1.1-1.4] ng/ml). No differences were noted for emotional or physical abuse. By contrast in men, individuals exposed to sexual abuse had larger IL-6 responses than those not exposed to abuse. Conclusions These findings suggest sex differences in stress response among survivors of a myocardial infarction exposed to abuse early in life. They also underscore the importance of examining sex as an effect modifier of relationships between exposure to early life adversity and inflammatory responses to mental stressors in midlife.
  • Authors

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    Digital Object Identifier (doi)

    Author List

  • Suglia SF; Hardy ST; Cammack AL; Kim YJ; Pearce BD; Shah AJ; Sullivan S; Wittbrodt M; Bremner JD; Vaccarino V
  • Start Page

  • 1013
  • End Page

  • 1020
  • Volume

  • 84
  • Issue

  • 9