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Link between childhood exposure to violence and stress-related inflammation

Study identifies inflammation marker associated with abuse and domestic violence during childhood.

It has been well documented within the scientific literature that childhood and adolescent adverse experiences, stress, and violence are linked to increased risk of physical and mental health issues in adulthood. Many of these physical and mental health issues are inflammatory in origin.

For many years, research has been carried out to investigate inflammation and its associations with stress. Until recently, the focus has primarily been on the inflammation markers, C-Reactive protein (CRP) and interleukin 6 (IL-6). However, the results from studies looking at these particular markers showed little effects. This could be, in part, explained by the fact these markers are more associated with short-term inflammation rather than long term.

A recent study carried out in the UK and published in JAMA Pediatrics, has set out to investigate if there is a link between adverse experiences, stress, and violence during childhood and adolescence with a specific inflammation marker called soluble urokinase plasminogen activator receptor (suPAR). This study is thus assessing the usefulness of this suPAR inflammation marker to indicate stress-related inflammation in later life.

The researchers included participants from the E-Risk Longitudinal Twin study sample in this study. Home visits were conducted when participants were 5, 7, 10, 12 and 18 years of age. These home visits were conducted in order to interview participants and families and to assess home hygiene.

The study reported that children who were exposed to stressful experiences; such as physical abuse, emotional abuse, and domestic violence in early life and adolescence had increased levels of suPAR by the age of 18 years. Other factors were ruled out as having an effect on suPAR levels including BMI, smoking, or living in unhygienic homes.

The results of this study strongly suggest that exposure to stress during childhood and adolescence is linked to inflammation by the age of 18, which could be detected by measuring the inflammation marker suPAR. This means that suPAR might be a useful inflammation marker to use in conjunction with pre-established markers for the measurement of stress-related inflammation in those who were exposed to adverse experiences in early life.


Written by Jade Evans



Rasmussen, L.J.H. et al 2019. Association of Adverse Experiences and Exposure to Violence in Childhood and Adolescence With Inflammatory Burden in Young People. [Online]. [03 January 2020]. Available from:

Felitti  VJ, et al.  Relationship of childhood abuse and household dysfunction to many of the leading causes of death in adults: the Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACE) study. Am J Prev Med. 1998;14(4):245-258

Image by lisa runnels from Pixabay 

Jade Evans MPharm
Jade Evans MPharm
Jade obtained her Master of Pharmacy degree from Cardiff University, UK in 2015 and then went on to work as a Pharmacist within the NHS, across both the hospital and community sectors. In 2017, she began her work for the medical news bulletin and moved to Perth, Australia. She is now working at Perth Children’s Hospital working in the Anaesthetic and Pain Management Research Group.


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