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Childhood Trauma and Cortisol Response to the Trier Social Stress Test in Symptomatic Patients with Eating Disorders

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  23 March 2020

F. Marciello
Affiliation:
Second University of Naples, Department of Psychiatry, Naples, Italy
V.-M. Buonomenna
Affiliation:
Second University of Naples, Department of Psychiatry, Naples, Italy
V. Caivano
Affiliation:
Second University of Naples, Department of Psychiatry, Naples, Italy
G. Cascino
Affiliation:
Second University of Naples, Department of Psychiatry, Naples, Italy
G. D’Agostino
Affiliation:
Second University of Naples, Department of Psychiatry, Naples, Italy
D. Nunziata
Affiliation:
Second University of Naples, Department of Psychiatry, Naples, Italy
P. Monteleone
Affiliation:
University of Salerno, Department of Medicine–Surgery and Dentistry “Scuola Medica Salernitana”–Section of Neurosciences, Salerno, Italy

Abstract

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Introduction

Childhood trauma exposure is associated with the risk of eating disorders (EDs) in adulthood. The biological basis of this link may involve a persistent dysregulation of the endogenous stress response system, in particular the hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal (HPA) axis, as a consequence of early life maltreatment.

Objective

Adult patients with EDs and history of childhood trauma may have a dysregulation of the HPA axis that could be different from EDs patients without childhood trauma exposure.

Aims

In order to assess the effects of childhood trauma experiences on HPA-axis activity in EDs, we compared the salivary cortisol response to the Trier Social Stress Test (TSST) of adult patients with EDs according to their history of childhood trauma.

Method

Twenty-seven EDs patients and 13 healthy women participated in the study. Salivary cortisol responses during exposure to the TSST was measured. Participants also completed the childhood trauma questionnaire (CTQ) and eating-related psychopathological rating scales.

Results

According to CTQ, 15 individuals with EDs reported childhood maltreatment whereas 12 EDs patients and all the healthy women did not experience childhood maltreatment. Compared with the control group, non-maltreated EDs patient group exhibited a slightly enhanced cortisol response to TSST, whereas the group of non-maltreated EDs patients showed a normal cortisol response. Moreover, EDs patients with childhood maltreatment exhibited statistically significant blunting of cortisol compared to non-maltreated ones.

Conclusions

The present findings support the evidence that, in patients with EDs, there is a dysregulation of HPA-axis activity and that childhood trauma exposure may contribute to this dysregulation.

Disclosure of interest

The authors have not supplied their declaration of competing interest.

Type
Oral communications: Epidemiology and social psychiatry; migration and mental health of immigrants; forensic psychiatry; suicidology and suicide prevention; prevention of mental disorders and promotion of mental health
Copyright
Copyright © European Psychiatric Association 2017
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