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Childhood Adversities (CAs) and childhood trauma are strongly associated with all types of mental disorders throughout all stages of life. They also relate to somatic diseases – especially age-related diseases – and are therefore among the most important risk factors for a reduced quality of life and negative adult functional outcomes. However, the link between CAs and their long-term consequences is still not fully understood.

A rather new and promising approach to explain the connection between early adversity and later health consequences are accelerated aging processes, which can be found, for example, in early puberty and later on in life in the shortening of telomere length and increasing expression of peripheral inflammation. It is discussed that the association between CAs, telomere length and inflammation is partly mediated by psychopathology – with the strongest current evidence for depression.

In the LOCO study (“Long-term Outcome of Childhood Adversities and Offending Behaviour”) we investigate these processes within the JAEL sample. In addition to the extensive coverage of childhood trauma and Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) and Complex Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (CPTSD) assessed in JAEL, blood samples were collected within in the LOCO study in order to investigate telomere length, telomerase activity and peripheral inflammatory markers. This gives us the opportunity to examine the association of CAs and the developmental course of affective disorder with telomere maintenance and peripheral inflammation in a high-risk sample of highly burdened young adults.