In recent years, increasing attention has been paid to the association between adverse childhood experiences (ACEs) and health across the lifespan. ACEs include trauma or stressful situations that occur before age 18, such as: B. physical, emotional and sexual abuse, abandonment, neglect and exposure to stressful family situations. These traumatic experiences have been shown to have lasting effects on people’s health and well-being.
An emerging field of research has examined the connection between ACEs and Alzheimer’s disease (AD), the most common form of dementia. AD is a neurodegenerative disease that affects millions of people around the world, and finding ways to prevent it or delay its onset is of utmost importance. Numerous studies have demonstrated a significant association between ACEs and an increased risk of developing AD in adulthood.
There is evidence that ACEs may affect brain health and contribute to the neurobiological changes associated with AD. For example, people who have experienced ACEs have been found to have reduced volume of certain brain areas such as the hippocampus and prefrontal cortex, which play crucial roles in memory, learning, decision-making and emotional regulation.
In addition, it has been found that ACEs can affect brain plasticity, which is the brain’s ability to adapt and change over time. These changes in brain plasticity are reflected in changes in stress response and regulatory systems, which increase vulnerability to cognitive impairment and emotional dysregulation and contribute to the development of neuropsychiatric disorders such as anxiety and depression, as well as diseases such as AD.
A recent systematic review examined several studies on the association between ACEs and AD risk and confirmed the association between the two. Although the number of studies is limited, they all showed that people who suffered from ACEs had a higher risk of developing Alzheimer’s disease than those who did not have adverse childhood experiences.
One of the most supported explanations is that ACEs increase allostatic load, which refers to the chronic activation of stress pathways in response to adverse events. Importantly, the process of allostasis is an adaptive response of the body to challenges and stress. However, allostatic overload as a result of prolonged stress exposure without full recovery can trigger changes in brain architecture and neural network connectivity.
In addition to allostatic load, other factors associated with disruption of body homeostasis may also contribute to the risk of AD. For example, ACEs have been found to promote the development of chronic inflammation and oxidative stress, which can lead to insulin resistance, a risk factor associated with AD.
Although ACEs are not the direct cause of AD, it is important to take steps to prevent and control them. In addition, further research is needed to understand the underlying mechanisms of the association between ACEs and AD and their interaction with other risk factors. Greater knowledge in this area can help us develop more effective AD prevention and treatment strategies and improve the quality of life of those who have experienced childhood trauma.