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Oxytocin response to an experimental psychosocial challenge in adults exposed to traumatic experiences during childhood or adolescence

Pierrehumbert, B.
Torrisi, R.
Laufer, D.
Halfon, O.
Beck Popovic, M.
Published in Neuroscience. 2010, vol. 166, no. 1, p. 168-177
Abstract Long-term implications of the exposure to traumatizing experiences during childhood or adolescence, such as sexual abuse, or cancer, have been documented, namely the subjects' response to an acute stress in adulthood. Several indicators of the stress response have been considered (e.g. cortisol, heart rate). Oxytocin (OT) response to an acute stress of individuals exposed to trauma has not been documented. Eighty subjects (n=26 women who had experienced episodes of child abuse, n=25 men and women healthy survivors of cancer in childhood or adolescence, and 29 controls) have been submitted to a laboratory session involving an experimental stress challenge, the Trier social stress test. Overall, there was a clear OT response to the psychosocial challenge. Subjects having experienced a childhood/adolescence life-threatening illness had higher mean levels of OT than both abused and control subjects. There was a moderate negative relationship between OT and salivary cortisol. It is suggested that an acute stress stimulates OT secretion, and that the exposure to enduring life-threatening experiences in childhood/adolescence has long-lasting consequences regarding the stress system and connected functions, namely the activation of OT secretion. Better knowledge of such long-term implications is important so that to prevent dysregulations of the stress responses, which have been shown to be associated to the individual's mental health.
Keywords Acute Disease/psychologyAdolescentAdultAging/physiology/*psychologyChildChild Abuse, Sexual/psychologyFemaleHumansHydrocortisone/blood/secretionHypothalamo-Hypophyseal System/*metabolism/physiopathology/secretionMaleMiddle AgedMood Disorders/etiology/metabolism/physiopathologyNeoplasms/psychologyNeuropsychological TestsOxytocin/*metabolism/secretionPsychologySex CharacteristicsSex FactorsStress Disorders, Post-Traumatic/etiology/*metabolism/physiopathologyStress, Psychological/etiology/*metabolism/physiopathologyTimeYoung Adult
PMID: 20018229
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Research group Groupe Ansermet François (psychiatrie) (861)
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PIERREHUMBERT, B. et al. Oxytocin response to an experimental psychosocial challenge in adults exposed to traumatic experiences during childhood or adolescence. In: Neuroscience, 2010, vol. 166, n° 1, p. 168-177. doi: 10.1016/j.neuroscience.2009.12.016 https://archive-ouverte.unige.ch/unige:21213

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Deposited on : 2012-05-23

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