A study has shown that childhood abuse (defined in this study as "sexual contact, severe physical abuse and/or severe neglect") leads to epigenetic modifications of glucocorticoid receptor expression, which play a role in hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal (HPA) activity. Maternal care influences hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal (HPA) function in the rat through epigenetic programming of glucocorticoid receptor expression. In humans, childhood abuse alters HPA stress responses and increases the risk of suicide. These findings translate previous results from rat to humans and suggest a common effect of parental care on the epigenetic regulation of hippocampal glucocorticoid receptor expression. (http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/19234457)

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