Mitochondria and early-life adversity

Mitochondrion. 2021 Mar;57:213-221. doi: 10.1016/j.mito.2021.01.005. Epub 2021 Jan 21.


Early-life adversity (ELA), which includes maltreatment, neglect, or severe trauma in childhood, increases the life-long risk for negative health outcomes. Mitochondria play a key role in the stress response and may be an important mechanism by which stress is transduced into biological risk for disease. By responding to cues from stress-signaling pathways, mitochondria interact dynamically with physiological stress responses coordinated by the central nervous, endocrine, and immune systems. Preclinical evidence suggests that alterations in mitochondrial function and structure are linked to both early stress and systemic biological dysfunction. Early clinical studies support that increased mitochondrial DNA content and altered cellular energy demands may be present in individuals with a history of ELA. Further research should investigate mitochondria as a potential therapeutic target following ELA.

Keywords: Early-life adversity; Mechanisms; Mitochondria; Stress; Trauma.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural