Socioeconomic Disadvantage Moderates the Association between Peripheral Biomarkers and Childhood PsychopathologyReport as inadecuate

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Socioeconomic disadvantage SED has been consistently associated with early life mental health problems. SED has been shown to impact multiple biological systems, including the regulation of neurotrophic proteins, immune-inflammatory and oxidative stress markers, which, conversely, have been reported to be relevant to physiological and pathological neurodevelopment This study investigated the relationship between SED, different domains of psychopathology, serum levels of interleukin-6 IL6, thiobarbituric acid-reactive substance TBARS and brain-derived neurotrophic factor BDNF. We hypothesized that a composite of socioeconomic risk would be associated with psychopathology and altered levels of peripheral biomarkers. In addition, we hypothesized that SED would moderate the associations between mental health problems, IL6, TBARS and BDNF.

Methods and Findings

Using a cross-sectional design, we measured the serum levels of IL6, TBARS and BDNF in 495 children aged 6 to 12. We also investigated socio-demographic characteristics and mental health problems using the Child Behaviour Checklist CBCL DSM-oriented scales. SED was evaluated using a cumulative risk model. Generalized linear models were used to assess associations between SED, biomarkers levels and psychopathology. SED was significantly associated with serum levels of IL6 RR = 1.026, 95% CI 1.004; 1.049, p = 0.020 and TBARS RR = 1.077, 95% CI 1.028; 1.127, p = 0.002. The association between SED and BDNF was not statistically significant RR = 1.031, 95% CI 0.997; 1.066, p = 0.077. SED was also significantly associated with all CBCL DSM-oriented scales all p < 0.05, whereas serum biomarkers i.e. IL6, TBARS, BDNF were associated with specific subscales. Moreover, the associations between serum biomarkers and domains of psychopathology were moderated by SED, with stronger correlations between mental health problems, IL6, TBARS, and BDNF being observed in children with high SED.


In children, SED is highly associated with mental health problems. Our findings suggest that this association may be moderated via effects on multiple interacting neurobiological systems.

Author: Rodrigo B. Mansur , Graccielle R. Cunha, Elson Asevedo, André Zugman, Maiara Zeni-Graiff, Adiel C. Rios, Sumit Sethi, Pawan K. M



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