Childhood Trauma and Inflammatory Markers

Embedded within the IGP study, this project investigates associations between immune and stress response systems and epigenetic markers and brain structure/function in psychotic disorders. We specifically examine the role of inflammatory (e.g., cytokines) and stress markers (e.g., cortisol levels) as mediators of associations between trauma-related epigenetic modifications and brain imaging phenotypes among patients with schizophrenia, schizoaffective disorder, and bipolar disorder. We expect trauma-related epigenetic markers to be associated with increased volumes and function of regions involved in emotional processes (amygdala, thalamus), and decreased volumes and function in regions involved in cognitive processes [hippocampus, anterior cingulate cortex (ACC), dorsolateral prefrontal cortex], and with increased pro-inflammatory cytokine levels, that will in turn be associated with hippocampal and ACC integrity (volume, function and metabolism).

This project has received funding from the Australian Society of Mental Health Research (Early Career Research Grant, 2017).