JIJITANG2014-11-24 6:07 PM


Otherwise healthy girls at high-risk for depression may be aging at a faster rate than their peers .

A new study shows the girls with a family history of depression respond to stress by releasing much higher levels of the hormone cortisol .

They also have telomeres that are shorter by the equivalent of six years in adults. Telomeres are caps on the ends of chromosomes. Every time a cell divides the telomeres get a little shorter .

Telomere length is like a biological clock corresponding to age . Telomeres also shorten as a result of exposure to stress .

Previous studies have uncovered links in adults between shorter telomeres and premature death, more frequent infections , and chronic diseases .

“I did not think that these girls would have shorter telomeres than their low-risk counterparts—they’re too young ,” says Ian Gotlib, professor of psychology at Stanford University .


For the study , published in Molecular Psychiatry , researchers recruited 10- to 14-year-old healthy girls with a family history of depression and compared them to healthy girls without that background .

Researchers measured the girls’ response to stress tests , asking them to count backward from 100 by 7 , and interviewing them about stressful situations. Before and after the test, the team measured the girls’ cortisol levels and also analyzed DNA samples for telomere length .

“ No one had examined telomere length in young children who are at risk for developing depression ,” before the study , Gotlib says .

Healthy but high-risk 12-year-old girls had significantly shorter telomeres, a sign of premature aging .

“It’s the equivalent in adults of six years of biological aging,” Gotlib says, but “it’s not at all clear that that makes them 18 , because no one has done this measurement in children .”


Exercise has been shown to delay telomere shortening in adults , so girls at high-risk girls should learn stress reduction techniques , Gotlib says .

Other studies show that neurofeedback and attention bias training (redirecting attention toward the positive) seem promising . Other investigators are studying techniques based on mindfulness training .

Gotlib says he and colleagues are continuing to monitor the girls from the original study . “ It’s looking like telomere length is predicting who’s going to become depressed and who’s not .”

The National Institute of Mental Health supported the study .

Original Article :

《Telomere length and cortisol reactivity in children of depressed mothers》,  Published on Journal《Molecular Psychiatry》on 25th September , 2014 .







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