Childhood adverse life events and skeletal muscle mitochondrial function

Sci Adv. 2024 Mar 8;10(10):eadj6411. doi: 10.1126/sciadv.adj6411. Epub 2024 Mar 6.


Social stress experienced in childhood is associated with adverse health later in life. Mitochondrial function has been implicated as a mechanism for how stressful life events "get under the skin" to influence physical well-being. Using data from the Study of Muscle, Mobility, and Aging (n = 879, 59% women), linear models examined whether adverse childhood events (i.e., physical abuse) were associated with two measures of skeletal muscle mitochondrial energetics in older adults: (i) maximal adenosine triphosphate production (ATPmax) and (ii) maximal state 3 respiration (Max OXPHOS). Forty-five percent of the sample reported experiencing one or more adverse childhood events. After adjustment, each additional event was associated with -0.08 SD (95% confidence interval = -0.13, -0.02) lower ATPmax. No association was observed with Max OXPHOS. Adverse childhood events are associated with lower ATP production in later life. Findings indicate that mitochondrial function may be a mechanism for understanding how early social stress influences health in later life.

MeSH terms

  • Adenosine Triphosphate
  • Aged
  • Aging
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Mitochondria
  • Muscle, Skeletal*
  • Musculoskeletal Physiological Phenomena*


  • Adenosine Triphosphate