• Investigating the Effects of Markers of Biological Stress on the Association between Adverse Childhood Experiences and Central Artery Stiffness

      Iannarelli, Nathaniel J.; Applied Health Sciences Program
      Adverse childhood experiences (ACEs) have been shown to be associated with an increased risk of cardiovascular disease (CVD). One mechanism by which ACEs may increase CVD risk is through their association with central artery stiffness. Pathways linking ACEs to arterial stiffness have not yet been fully elucidated; however, increased biological stress has been postulated to play a critical role. Recently, two markers have emerged as being potentially useful measures of biological stress—telomere length (TL) and mitochondrial DNA copy number (mtDNAcn). Here, the potential effects of TL and mtDNAcn on the association between ACEs and central artery stiffness were examined. It was hypothesized that TL and/or mtDNAcn would be associated with both ACEs and central artery stiffness, and that these markers would influence the association between ACEs and arterial stiffness. 185 individuals (n = 102 females) aged 19-25 years (mean age 22.5 ± 1.5 years) were included in the current analyses. ACEs were assessed using the CTES 2.0. Central artery stiffness was assessed non-invasively as carotid-femoral pulse wave velocity (cfPWV). TL and mtDNAcn were assessed using qPCR techniques. Multiple linear regression analyses were used to examine the associations between ACEs, TL, mtDNAcn, and cfPWV after adjustment for several covariates. ACEs were independently associated with cfPWV (β = 0.147, p = 0.035). Both TL and mtDNAcn were independently associated with cfPWV (β = -0.169, p = 0.012 and β = -0.525, p = 0.017, respectively). There was no significant association between ACEs and either TL or mtDNAcn (both p > 0.05); and neither marker influenced the association between ACEs and cfPWV. Increasing ACEs were associated with a faster cfPWV. This association was not influenced by either TL or mtDNAcn, suggesting that these markers do not provide a link between ACEs and arterial stiffness. Reduced TL and mtDNAcn were also associated with a faster cfPWV. Future studies are required to better understand the association between ACEs, markers of biological stress, and arterial stiffness.