Project: My Childhood - Your Childhood

Project Team

Project Management
Prof. Dr. Iris-Tatjana Kolassa

M.Sc. Anja Gumpp
M.Sc. Melissa Hitzler
Lic. Biol. Laura Ramo-Fernández

Cooperation partners
Dr. Alexander Karabatsiakis

Prof. Dr. Iris-Tatjana Kolassa

Molecular Psychotraumatology

Research questions and key results

The study “My Childhood−Your Childhood”, funded by the Federal Ministry of Education and Research (BMBF), examined how positive and negative (traumatic) childhood experiences of mothers affect the relationship to one’s own child. The focus was on the mother’s own life story, the relationship between mother and child in the first year of life and the child’s development. The long-term goal of the joint project was to contribute to the development and optimisation of support services for families in the first years of the child’s life.

The Department of Clinical & Biological Psychology has been particularly interested in the underlying biological mechanisms. So far, little is known about which biological mechanisms are involved in the transgenerational transmission of relationship experiences (in particular experiences of abuse, mistreatment and neglect) and how they affect the next generation. Possible biological correlates could be found in the binding behaviour and on a physiological level in the stress and immune system as well as in accelerated cell aging and altered epigenetics. First results of our group show changes in steroids and endocannabinoids in the hair, as well as in the immune system of mothers and their newborns.

Media reports

External funding and project network

  • 01/2013-12/2016 BMBF: Stress resilience in the transgenerational transmission of childhood maltreatment. J. Fegert (Koordinator), H. Gündel, I.-T. Kolassa

         The research network comprised the following institutions:

    Prizes and awards

    • Christina Böck: GEBIN Award 2015 for outstanding insights in Psychoneuroimmunology
    • Christina Böck: Best Poster Award 2014 of the Carl Zeiss Foundation
    • Christina Böck: Trainee Scholar Award of the Psychoneuroimmunology Research Society
    • Christina Böck: Doctoral Student Award 2018 of the Graduate School „Molecular Medicine”, Ulm University

    Selected Publications

    • Boeck, C., Gumpp, A.M., Calzia, E., Radermacher, P., Waller, C., Karabatsiakis, A., Kolassa, I.-T. (2018). The association between cortisol, oxytocin and immune cell mitochondrial oxygen consumption in postpartum women with childhood maltreatment. Psychoneuroendocrinology. 96, 69-77.
    • Geiger, M. L., Boeck, C., Koenig, A. M., Schury, K., Waller, C., Kolassa, S., Karabatsiakis, A., Kolassa, I.-T. (2018). Investigating the effects of child maltreatment experiences on inflammation: The influence of cortisol and DHEA on cytokine secretion ex vivo. Mental Health and Prevention.
    • Koenig, A.M., Ramo-Fernández, L., Boeck, C., Umlauft, M., Pauly, M., Binder, E.B., Kirschbaum, C., Gündel, H., Karabatsiakis, A., Kolassa, I.-T. (2018). Intergenerational gene × environment interaction of FKBP5 and childhood maltreatment on hair steroids. Psychoneuroendocrinology.
    • Gerke, J., Koenig, A. M., Conrad, D., Doyen-Waldecker, C., Pauly, M., Gündel, H., Wilker, S., Kolassa, I.-T. (2018). Childhood maltreatment as risk factor for lifetime depression: the role of different types of experiences and sensitive periods. Mental Health and Prevention.
    • Koenig, A. M., Reister, F., Gao, W., Umlauft, M., Schury, K., Kirschbaum, K., Karabatsiakis, A., Kolassa, I.-T. (2018). Altered hair endocannabinoid levels in mothers with childhood maltreatment and their newborns. Biological Psychology.
    • Koenig, A.M., Karabatsiakis, A., Stoll, T., Wilker, S., Hennessy, T., Hill, M. M., & Kolassa, I.-T. (2018). Serum profile changes in individuals with a history of childhood maltreatment: a combined metabolite and lipid fingerprinting study. Scientific Reports, 8:e3468.
    • Krause, S., Boeck, C., Gumpp, A.M., Rottler, E., Schury, K., Karabatsiakis, A., Buchheim, A., Gündel, H., Kolassa, I.-T., Waller, C. (2018). Child maltreatment is associated with a reduction of the oxytocin receptor in peripheral blood mononuclear cells. Frontiers in Psychology, 9:e173.
    • Boeck, C., Krause, S., Karabatsiakis, A., Schury, K., Gündel, H., Waller, C., Kolassa, I.-T. (2017). History of child maltreatment and telomere length in immune cell subsets: Associations with stress and attachment-related hormones. Development and Psychopathology.
    • Schury, K., Koenig, A. M., Isele, D., Hulbert, A.-L., Krause, S., Umlauft, M., Kolassa, S., Ziegenhain, U., Karabatsiakis, A., Reister, F., Gündel, H., Fegert, J.M., Kolassa, I.-T. (2017). Alterations of hair cortisol and dehydroepiandrosterone in mother-infant-dyads with maternal childhood maltreatment. BMC Psychiatry, 17:e213.
    • Schury, K., Zimmermann, J., Umlauft, M., Hulbert, A. L., Gündel, H., Ziegenhain, U., Kolassa, I.-T. (2017). Childhood maltreatment, postnatal distress and the protective role of social support. Child Abuse and Neglect, 67, 228-239.
    • Boeck, C., Koenig, A. M., Schury, K., Geiger, M. L., Karabatsiakis, A., Wilker, S., Waller, C., Gündel, H., Fegert, J. M., Calzia, E., Kolassa, I.-T. (2016). Inflammation in adult women with a history of child maltreatment: the involvement of mitochondrial alterations and oxidative stress. Mitochondrion, 30, 197-207.
    • Koenig, A. M., Schury, K., Reister, F., Köhler-Dauner, F., Schauer, M., Ruf-Leuschner, M., Gündel, H., Ziegenhain, U., Fegert, J. M., & Kolassa, I.-T. (2016). Psychosocial risk factors for child welfare among expectant mothers with a history of childhood maltreatment and neglect. Geburtshilfe und Frauenheilkunde, 76(3), 261-267. DOI: 10.1055/s-0041-111172.
    • Krause, S., Pokorny, D., Schury, K., Doyen-Waldecker, C., Hulbert, A., Karabatsiakis, A., Kolassa, I.-T., Gündel, H., Waller, C., Buchheim, A. (2016). Effects of the Adult Attachment Projective Picture System on oxytocin and cortisol blood levels in mothers. Frontiers in Human Neuroscience, 10, e627.
    • Ramo-Fernández, L., Schneider, A., Wilker, S., Kolassa, I.-T. (2015). Epigenetic alterations associated with war trauma and childhood maltreatment. Behavioral Sciences and the Law, 33, 701-721.