About this Research Topic
Stressful or noxious environmental exposures and experiences in early life can have persistent developmental effects that impact how the body responds to stressors later in life. Such “developmental programming” in response to early life stress has been linked to increased risk of developing an array of physical diseases, behavioral problems, and mental illness. The programming appears to involve a complex interplay between the central nervous system and the immune system, affecting gene regulation with functional consequences in both systems. Often, such effects are passed epigenetically into subsequent generations. A challenge for the field is to elucidate the molecular/genetic and cellular regulatory circuitry underlying stress-induced developmental programming.
This topic will explore how early life stress programs development of the immune and nervous systems, focusing on genetic, epigenetic, and neural regulatory circuits that convey resilience or vulnerability to subsequent challenge. We would welcome submissions that address the following open questions: What are the gene regulatory networks that mediate stress-induced developmental and/or epigenetic programming of the immune and/or nervous system to determine responsivity of those systems to subsequent challenge? How does early life stress or trauma affect development of the specific neural circuits that regulate responses to stress and threat? How does such programming affect set points that determine immune and nervous system responsivity to subsequent stress?
We will consider Original Research articles and Reviews that address how early life stress programs development of the immune and/or nervous systems to affect their subsequent responsivity to challenge. This might include:
• Gene regulatory networks mediating stress-induced developmental programming of the immune and/or nervous systems
• Epigenetic mechanisms through which early life stress impacts immune and/or nervous system responsivity to stress in subsequent generations
• Effects of early life stressors on brain circuitry impacting regulation of the neuroendocrine stress (HPA/HPI) axis and/or sympathetic nervous system
• Persistent effects of early life stress on immune responsivity and regulation of inflammation
• Persistent effects of early life stress on threat/stress perception
• Therapeutic approaches to mitigating the persistent adverse effects of early life stress on the stress response system
Important Note: All contributions to this Research Topic must be within the scope of the section and journal to which they are submitted, as defined in their mission statements. Frontiers reserves the right to guide an out-of-scope manuscript to a more suitable section or journal at any stage of peer review.