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The coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) has serious physiological and psychological consequences. The long-term (>12 weeks post-infection) impact of COVID-19 on mental health, specifically in older adults, is unclear. We longitudinally assessed the association of COVID-19 with depression symptomatology in community-dwelling older adults with metabolic syndrome within the framework of the PREDIMED-Plus cohort.
Participants (n = 5486) aged 55–75 years were included in this longitudinal cohort. COVID-19 status (positive/negative) determined by tests (e.g. polymerase chain reaction severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2, IgG) was confirmed via event adjudication (410 cases). Pre- and post-COVID-19 depressive symptomatology was ascertained from annual assessments conducted using a validated 21-item Spanish Beck Depression Inventory-II (BDI-II). Multivariable linear and logistic regression models assessed the association between COVID-19 and depression symptomatology.
COVID-19 in older adults was associated with higher post-COVID-19 BDI-II scores measured at a median (interquartile range) of 29 (15–40) weeks post-infection [fully adjusted β = 0.65 points, 95% confidence interval (CI) 0.15–1.15; p = 0.011]. This association was particularly prominent in women (β = 1.38 points, 95% CI 0.44–2.33, p = 0.004). COVID-19 was associated with 62% increased odds of elevated depression risk (BDI-II ≥ 14) post-COVID-19 when adjusted for confounders (odds ratio; 95% CI 1.13–2.30, p = 0.008).
COVID-19 was associated with long-term depression risk in older adults with overweight/obesity and metabolic syndrome, particularly in women. Thus, long-term evaluations of the impact of COVID-19 on mental health and preventive public health initiatives are warranted in older adults.
Despite the strong link between childhood maltreatment and psychopathology, the underlying neurodevelopmental mechanisms are poorly understood and difficult to disentangle from heritable and prenatal factors. This study used a translational macaque model of infant maltreatment in which the adverse experience occurs in the first months of life, during intense maturation of amygdala circuits important for stress and emotional regulation. Thus, we examined the developmental impact of maltreatment on amygdala functional connectivity (FC) longitudinally, from infancy through the juvenile period. Using resting state functional magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) we performed amygdala–prefrontal cortex (PFC) region-of-interest and exploratory whole-brain amygdala FC analyses. The latter showed (a) developmental increases in amygdala FC with many regions, likely supporting increased processing of socioemotional-relevant stimuli with age; and (b) maltreatment effects on amygdala coupling with arousal and stress brain regions (locus coeruleus, laterodorsal tegmental area) that emerged with age. Maltreated juveniles showed weaker FC than controls, which was negatively associated with infant hair cortisol concentrations. Findings from the region-of-interest analysis also showed weaker amygdala FC with PFC regions in maltreated animals than controls since infancy, whereas bilateral amygdala FC was stronger in maltreated animals. These effects on amygdala FC development may underlie the poor behavioral outcomes associated with this adverse experience.
The molecular, neurobiological, and physical health impacts of child maltreatment are well established, yet mechanistic pathways remain inadequately defined. Telomere length (TL) decline is an emerging molecular indicator of stress exposure with definitive links to negative health outcomes in maltreated individuals. The multiple confounders endemic to human maltreatment research impede the identification of causal pathways. This study leverages a unique randomized, cross-foster, study design in a naturalistic translational nonhuman primate model of infant maltreatment. At birth, newborn macaques were randomly assigned to either a maltreating or a competent control mother, balancing for sex, biological mother parenting history, and social rank. Offspring TL was measured longitudinally across the first 6 months of life (infancy) from peripheral blood. Hair cortisol accumulation was also determined at 6, 12, and 18 months of age. TL decline was greater in animals randomized to maltreatment, but also interacted with biological mother group. Shorter TL at 6 months was associated with higher mean cortisol levels through 18 months (juvenile period) when controlling for relevant covariates. These results suggest that even under the equivalent social, nutritional, and environmental conditions feasible in naturalistic translational nonhuman primate models, early adverse caregiving results in lasting molecular scars that foreshadow elevated health risk and physiologic dysregulation.
The mechanisms through which early life stress leads to psychopathology are thought to involve allostatic load, the “wear and tear” an organism is subjected to as a consequence of sustained elevated levels of glucocorticoids caused by repeated/prolonged stress activations. The allostatic load model described this phenomenon, but has been criticized as inadequate to explain alterations associated with early adverse experience in some systems, including behavior, which cannot be entirely explained from an energy balance perspective. The reactive scope model has been more recently proposed and focuses less on energy balance and more on dynamic ranges of physiological and behavioral mediators. In this review we examine the mechanisms underlying the behavioral consequences of early life stress in the context of both these models. We focus on adverse experiences that involve mother–infant relationship disruption, and dissect those mechanisms involving maternal care as a regulator of development of neural circuits that control emotional and social behaviors in the offspring. We also discuss the evolutionary purpose of the plasticity in behavioral development, which has a clear adaptive value in a changing environment.
The different incidence rates of, and risk factors for, depression in different countries argue for the need to have a specific risk algorithm for each country or a supranational risk algorithm. We aimed to develop and validate a predictD-Spain risk algorithm (PSRA) for the onset of major depression and to compare the performance of the PSRA with the predictD-Europe risk algorithm (PERA) in Spanish primary care.
A prospective cohort study with evaluations at baseline, 6 and 12 months. We measured 39 known risk factors and used multi-level logistic regression and inverse probability weighting to build the PSRA. In Spain (4574), Chile (2133) and another five European countries (5184), 11 891 non-depressed adult primary care attendees formed our at-risk population. The main outcome was DSM-IV major depression (CIDI).
Six variables were patient characteristics or past events (sex, age, sex×age interaction, education, physical child abuse, and lifetime depression) and six were current status [Short Form 12 (SF-12) physical score, SF-12 mental score, dissatisfaction with unpaid work, number of serious problems in very close persons, dissatisfaction with living together at home, and taking medication for stress, anxiety or depression]. The C-index of the PSRA was 0.82 [95% confidence interval (CI) 0.79–0.84]. The Integrated Discrimination Improvement (IDI) was 0.0558 [standard error (s.e.)=0.0071, Zexp=7.88, p<0.0001] mainly due to the increase in sensitivity. Both the IDI and calibration plots showed that the PSRA functioned better than the PERA in Spain.
The PSRA included new variables and afforded an improved performance over the PERA for predicting the onset of major depression in Spain. However, the PERA is still the best option in other European countries.
The use of animal models figures prominently in mental health research and can play an especially important role in our efforts to understand developmental psychopathologies. The vast majority of animal research is conducted with rodents, and a typical approach involves experimentally re-creating behavioral, psychological, or neurobiological conditions that share some similarities with human psychopathologies or their biological substrates. For example, human depression can be experimentally modeled as learned helplessness in rodents, and tested in a forced swimming paradigm. In this task, a rat is placed in a water tank for a given period of time. After the rat's efforts at escaping from the tank through swimming have failed, some animals stop struggling, exhibiting behavioral passivity and neuroendocrine changes that share some similarities with those observed in people who suffer from clinical depression.
A different approach to modeling human psychopathologies involves identifying similar pathologies that occur naturally in animals. This approach is particularly powerful if conditions similar to human mental disorders are identified in animals that are closest and most similar to us, such as the anthropomorphic primates (i.e., the Old World monkeys and apes). In this chapter, we illustrate this approach by reviewing research on the natural occurrence of infant abuse in nonhuman primate populations, and by discussing how this research can help us understand the causes and developmental consequences of child maltreatment in humans (see also Maestripieri, 1999; Maestripieri & Carroll, 1998a; Sanchez, 2006).
In this study we investigated the development of the hypothalamic–pituitary–adrenal (HPA) axis in 21 group-living rhesus monkeys infants that were physically abused by their mothers in the first few months of life and in 21 nonabused controls. Cortisol and adrenocorticotropin hormone (ACTH) responses to a corticotropin-releasing hormone (CRH) challenge were assessed at 6-month intervals during the subjects' first 3 years of life. Abused infants exhibited greater cortisol responses to CRH than controls across the 3 years. Abused infants also exhibited blunted ACTH secretion in response to CRH, especially at 6 months of age. Although there were no significant sex differences in abuse experienced early in life, females showed a greater cortisol response to CRH than males at all ages. There were no significant sex differences in the ACTH response to CRH, or significant interactions between sex and abuse in the ACTH or cortisol response. Our findings suggest that early parental maltreatment results in greater adrenocortical, and possibly also pituitary, responsiveness to challenges later in life. These long-term alterations in neuroendocrine function may be one the mechanisms through which infant abuse results in later psychopathologies. Our study also suggests that there are developmental sex differences in adrenal function that occur irrespective of early stressful experience. The results of this study can enhance our understanding of the long-term effects of child maltreatment as well as our knowledge of the development of the HPA axis in human and nonhuman primates.
Increasing evidence supports the view that the interaction of perinatal exposure to adversity
with individual genetic liabilities may increase an individual's vulnerability to the expression
of psycho- and physiopathology throughout life. The early environment appears to program some
aspects of neurobiological development and, in turn, behavioral, emotional, cognitive, and
physiological development. Several rodent and primate models of early adverse experience have
been analyzed in this review, including those that “model” maternal separation or
loss, abuse or neglect, and social deprivation. Accumulating evidence shows that these early
traumatic experiences are associated with long-term alterations in coping style, emotional and
behavioral regulation, neuroendocrine responsiveness to stress, social “fitness,”
cognitive function, brain morphology, neurochemistry, and expression levels of central nervous
system genes that have been related to anxiety and mood disorders. Studies are underway to
identify important aspects of adverse early experience, such as (a) the existence of
“sensitive periods” during development associated with alterations in particular
output systems, (b) the presence of “windows of opportunity” during which
targeted interventions (e.g., nurturant parenting or supportive–enriching environment) may
prevent or reverse dysfunction, (c) the identity of gene polymorphisms contributing to the
individual's variability in vulnerability, and (d) a means to translate the timing of these
developmental “sensitive periods” across species.
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