Meine Kindheit – Deine Kindheit (My childhood - Your childhood)

Study on the Influence of Mothers' Childhood Experiences on their Children from Birth to School Age




Transgenerational Transmission, Risks and Protective Factors, Resilience and Vulnerability, Stress Reactivity, Mental Health, (Epi-)Genetics

Project Management

  • Profilbild von Prof. Dr. med. Jörg M. Fegert

    Prof. Dr. med. Jörg M. Fegert

    Ärztlicher Direktor der Klinik für Kinder- und Jugendpsychiatrie/Psychotherapie

  • Profilbild von Prof. Dr. phil. Ute Ziegenhain

    Prof. Dr. phil. Ute Ziegenhain

Cooperation Partners

  • Prof. Dr. Christiane Waller, Prof. Dr. Harald Gündel, Department of Psychosomatic Medicine and Psychotherapy, University Hospital Ulm
  • Prof. Dr. Iris-Tatjana Kolassa, Clinical and Biological Psychology, University of Ulm
  • Prof. Dr. Katharina Braun, Department of Zoology and Developmental Neurobiology, University of Magdeburg
  • Dr. Heinz Kindler, German Youth Institute (DJI), Munich

Project Terms

Since 01.06.2013

Background & Aim of the Project

The aim of the project is to investigate the influence of positive and negative maternal childhood experiences on the relationship with one's own child and its development. It aims at gaining a better understanding of the mechanisms of this influence, paying particular attention to the investigation of underlying biological mechanisms. Risk and protection factors are to be uncovered, which contribute to whether and how experiences of abuse, mistreatment and neglect are passed on to the next generation. The longterm objective of the study is to provide specific support for mothers with stressful experiences and to facilitate access to support.

Description of the Project

TRANS-GEN is a collaborative project divided into five subprojects (WP): four human projects (WP I-III and V) and one animal model (WP IV).
WP I focuses on the development of children, examines psychological stress reactivity and cognitive development as well as the moderating effect of mother-child bonding.
WP II focuses the mother’s maltreatment experiences as well as with the influence of e.g. maternal psychopathology, attachment representation and sensitivity.
WP III collects the biological correlates of stress/trauma and binding in the human model as well as (epi)genetic relationships.
WP IV uses an animal model to investigate the causes and effects of transgenerational mistreatment experiences.
WP V examines the influence of the mother's social environment, i.e. her use of assistance and social support.

Publications and created materials

Bock J, Poeschel J, Schindler J, Börner F, Shachar-Dadon A, Ferdman N, Gaisler-Solomon I, Leshem M, Braun K, Poeggel G (2016) Transgenerational sex-specific impact of preconception stress on the development of dendritic spines and dendritic length in the medial prefrontal cortex. Brain Struct Funct 221:855-863

Bock J, Rether K, Gröger N, Xie L, Braun K (2014) Perinatal programming of emotional brain circuits: An integrative view from systems to molecules. Frontiers in Neuroscience 8:1-16.

Bock J, Wainstock T, Braun K, Segal M (2015) Stress in utero: Prenatal programming of brain plasticity and cognition. Biol Psychiatry 78:315-326

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.

Boeck, C., Gumpp, A.M., Koenig, A.M., Radermacher, P., Karabatsiakis, A., Kolassa, I.-T. (2019). The association of childhood maltreatment with lipid peroxidation and DNA damage in postpartum women. Frontiers in Psychiatry, 10, e23.

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.

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, 30(2), 539-551.

Brunner R, Reichl C, Bermpohl F, Bertsch K, Bock J, Bödeker K, Firk C, Fuchs A, Führer D, Gröger N, Heinz A, Herpertz-Dahlmann B, Herpertz S C, Dahmen B, Hindi Attar C, Kluczniok D, Konrad K, Lehmkuhl U, Möhler E, Neukel C, Reck C, Resch F, Rether K, Zietlow A-L, Ziegenhain U, Schury K, Karabatsiakis A, Braun K, Gündel H, Kindler H, Buchheim A, Meysen T, Kolassa I-T, Fegert, JM (2015) Mechanismen der generationsübergreifenden Transmission belastender Kindheitserfahrungen Theoretischer Hintergrund, Forschungsdesigns und erste Ergebnisse zweier multizentrischer Studien in Deutschland. TRAUMA & GEWALT 9. Jahrgang Heft 2,:124-147

Daniela Wigger, Nicole Gröger, Alexandra Lesse, Sabrina Krause, Tamara merz, Harald Gündel, Anna K. Braun, Oscar McCook, Peter Radermacher, Jörg Bock, Christiane Waller. Oxidative Medicine and Cellular Longevity, (submitted). Maternal separation induces long-term alterations in the cardiac oxytocin receptor and cystathione g lyase expression in mice.

Franziska Koehler-Dauner; Eva Roder; Sabrina Krause; Anna Buchheim; Harald Gündel; Jörg M. Fegert; Ute Ziegenhain; Christiane Waller (submitted). Reduced caregiving quality measured during the strange situation procedure increases child's autonomic nervous system stress response. Child and Adolescent Psychiatry and Mental Health.

Franziska Köhler-Dauner; Jörg M. Fegert; Anna, Buchheim; Sabrina Krause; Harald Gündel; Christiane Waller; Ute Ziegenhain (2018). Maternal Behavior Affects Child’s Attachment-Related Cortisol Stress Response. Journal of child and adolescent psychiatry. ISSN NO: 2643-6655. DOI: 10.14302/issn.2643-6655.jcap-19-2737.

Front Psychol.;9:173. doi: 10.3389/fpsyg.2018.00173. eCollection 2018

Geiger, M. L., Boeck, C., Koenig, A. M., Schury, K., Waller, C., Kolassa, S., Karabatsiakis, A., Kolassa, I.-T. (2019). Investigating the effects of child maltreatment experiences on inflammation: The influence of cortisol and DHEA on cytokine secretion ex vivo. Mental Health and Prevention, 13, 176-186 .

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, 10, 56-65.

Gröger N, Bock J, Goehler D, Blume N, Lisson N, Poeggel G, Braun K (2016) Stress in utero alters neonatal stress-induced regulation of the synaptic plasticity proteins Arc and Egr1 in a sex-specific manner. Brain Struct Funct. 221:679-685

Gröger, N, Matas E, Gos T, Lesse A, Poeggel G, Braun K, Bock J (2016) The transgenerational transmission of childhood adversity: Behavioral, cellular and epigenetic correlates. J Neural Transm 123(9):1037-1052

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, 35, 93-101.

Koenig, A., Alexandra 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, 92, 103-112.

Koenig, A., Schury, K., Reister, F., Köhler-Dauner, F., Schauer, M., Ruf-Leuschner, M., Gündel, H., Ziegenhain, U., Fegert, J., & Kolassa, I.-T. (2016). Psychosocial risk factors for child welfare among postpartum mothers with a history of childhood maltreatment and neglect. Geburtshilfe und Frauenheilkunde, 76, 261-267.

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

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, 10:627.

Matas E, Bock J, Braun K (2016) Repeated interruption of parent-infant interaction induces epigenetic and brain structural changes in the infant brain. Psychopathology 2016;49(4):201-210

Merz T, Lukaschewski B, Wigger D, Rupprecht A, Wepler M, Gröger M, Hartmann C, Whiteman M, Szabo C, Wang R, Waller C, Radermacher P, McCook O. (2018). Interaction of the hydrogen sulfide system with the oxytocin system in the injured mouse heart. Intensive Care Med Exp. 2018 Oct 19;6(1):41. doi: 10.1186/s40635-018-0207-0

Ramo-Fernandez, L., Boeck, C., Koenig, A., Binder, E.B., Karabatsiakis, A., Kolassa, I.-T. (2019). The effects of childhood maltreatment on epigenetic regulation of stress-response associated genes: an intergenerational approach. Scientific Reports, 9:e983.

Roder E, Krause S, Kohler-Dauner F, Gündel H, Kolassa IT, Rottler E, Fegert J, Prinz J, Alkon A, Ziegenhain U, Waller C. (in review. ). Maternal separation and contact to a stranger more than reunion affect the autonomic nervous system in the mother-child dyad. International Journal of Psychophysiology,

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.

Steffen J, Krohn M, Paarmann K, Schwitlick C, Brüning T, Marreiros R, Müller-Schiffmann A, Korth C, Braun K, Pahnke J (2016) Revisiting rodent models: Octodon degus as Alzheimer's disease model? Acta Neuropathol Commun. 2016 Aug 26;4(1):91

Funded by

Federal Ministry of Education and Research (BMBF), Project Management Agency: German Aerospace Center (DLR)