Carpenter, L.L. et al. (2010)
Association Between Plasma IL-6 Response to Acute Stress and Early-life Adversity in Healthy Adults
Neuropsychopharmacology 35: 2617-2623

pdfAssociation Between Plasma IL-6 Response to Acute Stress and Early-life Adversity in Healthy Adults (full summary)

  • Adverse events in early childhood, such as abuse or neglect, are now known to be risk factors for health problems in adulthood.
  • One of the proteins involved in the stress response is interleukin-6 (IL-6), which is particularly important in the immune system.
  • The researchers measured levels of IL-6 in blood plasma during standard challenges used to induce stress in two groups of adults, one of which had experienced abuse or neglect in childhood.
  • Plasma IL-6 levels were very similar in both groups before the stress test. During the test, IL-6 levels rose in all participants but the rise was very significantly larger in those who had experienced early childhood stress.
  • These results in a small sample suggest that IL-6 levels responds to psychosocial stress and that this response is enhanced in people who experienced significant stress in early childhood. It would be useful to repeat the experiment with a larger number of participants.