Research Alert

Rockville, Md. (June 1, 2022)—Research published ahead of print in the journal Function suggests that reduced activity in one area of the brain may play in role in how adults who experienced adverse childhood events (ACEs) have a greater risk of developing cardiovascular disease.

Previous research has established a connection between ACEs and heart disease in adulthood. “The brain is directly involved in controlling cardiovascular functions during stressful situations. Specifically, the medial prefrontal cortex (mPFC), a core region of the brain that modulates emotions, is directly engaged in the cardiovascular response to stress,” researchers involved in a new study wrote. Analysis of microvascular function in a group of volunteers who experienced ACEs found that the medial prefrontal cortex showed a decrease in activity and increased narrowing of the arteries—a risk factor associated with cardiovascular disease—when compared to a control group.

“Findings from the present study support that adults who experienced ACEs exhibit a reduced activation of the (mPFC) along with systemic vascular dysfunction. In addition, individuals exposed to more childhood traumatic events exhibited a progressively greater inactivation of the mPFC and an increased peripheral vasoconstriction in a dose-dependent manner. These findings provide novel insights into the potential role that the brain and the peripheral vasculature may have in connecting adverse childhood events to the increased risk of CVD,” the researchers wrote.

Read the full article, “The link between childhood adversity and cardiovascular disease risk: role of cerebral and systemic vasculature.” Contact APS Media Relations to schedule an interview with the research team.

Journal Link: Function