Stressful life events occurring in adulthood have been found able to affect mood and behavior, thus increasing the vulnerability for several stress-related psychiatric disorders. However, although there is plenty of clinical data supporting an association between stressful life events in adulthood and an enhanced vulnerability for psychopathology, the underlying molecular mechanisms are still poorly investigated. Thus, in this study we performed peripheral/whole-genome transcriptomic analyses in blood samples obtained from 53 adult subjects characterized for recent stressful life events occurred within the previous 6 months. Transcriptomic data were analyzed using Partek Genomics Suite; pathway and network analyses were performed using Ingenuity Pathway Analysis and GeneMANIA Software. We found 207 genes significantly differentially expressed in adult subjects who reported recent stressful life experiences (n = 21) compared with those without such experiences (n = 32). Moreover, the same subjects exposed to such stressful experiences showed a reduction in leukocyte telomere length. A correlation analyses between telomere length and transcriptomic data indicated an association between the exposures to recent stressful life events and the modulation of several pathways, mainly involved in immune-inflammatory-related processes and oxidative stress, such as natural killer cell signaling, interleukin-1 (IL-1) signaling, MIF regulation of innate immunity and IL-6 signaling. Our data suggest an association between exposures to recent stressful life events in adulthood and alterations in the immune, inflammatory and oxidative stress pathways, which could be also involved in the negative effect of stressful life events on leukocyte telomere length. The modulation of these mechanisms may underlie the clinical association between the exposure to recent Stressful life events in adulthood and an enhanced vulnerability to develop psychiatric diseases in adulthood.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Psychiatry and Mental health
- Cellular and Molecular Neuroscience
- Biological Psychiatry