Principal Investigator: Dr Anne-Laura van Harmelen
Institution: University of CambridgeTags: 54358, Brain, Childhood-maltreatment, depression, inflammation, MRI, resilience
Those who experience childhood maltreatment (CM) – such as sexual and physical abuse, as well as neglect – have close to a fourfold risk of developing major depressive disorder (MDD). However, a small percentage of CM-affected individuals remain mentally healthy and are deemed ‘resilient’. The goal of this project is to shed light on the thus far poorly understood factors differentiating between psychopathology outcomes in adults with a history of childhood maltreatment.
Altered peripheral immune function (as assessed via inflammation levels) has been independently linked to experiences of childhood maltreatment, depression diagnosis, brain structure and function. In this project we will use brain imaging data, together with statistical analyses, in order to determine which set of brain areas have different structure and functional connectivity in depressed vs. resilient individuals with a history of CM. We then will determine the extent to which these alterations are related to inflammation levels in the two groups of interest. This project will last 12 months and contribute to our understanding of factors that protect against MDD. An urgent need given that this disorder is projected to become the leading cause of global disease burden by 2030, according to the WHO.