Supportive Family Environments Ameliorate the Link Between Racial Discrimination and Epigenetic Aging: A Replication Across Two Longitudinal Cohorts

Gene H. Brody*, Gregory E. Miller, Tianyi Yu, Steven R.H. Beach, Edith Chen

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

64 Scopus citations

Abstract

This study tested the hypothesis that supportive family environments during adolescence buffer exposure to racial discrimination, reducing its impact on biological weathering and its manifestation in cellular aging. Perceived racial discrimination, support in the family environment, and confounder variables were assessed for 3 consecutive years across adolescence in two independent cohorts of African American youth from rural Georgia. DNA was extracted from peripheral blood mononuclear cells collected during young adulthood. Patterns of methylation were used to index the epigenetic ages of these cells and the extent to which they differed from participants’ chronological ages. Among youth in supportive family environments, exposure to higher levels of racial discrimination did not forecast greater epigenetic aging. Among youth in less supportive family environments, exposure to higher levels of racial discrimination did forecast greater epigenetic aging. The associations emerged independently of confounder variables, and the results were replicated across the two cohorts.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)530-541
Number of pages12
JournalPsychological Science
Volume27
Issue number4
DOIs
StatePublished - Apr 2016

Keywords

  • adolescent development
  • environmental effects
  • minority groups
  • racial and ethnic attitudes and relations
  • relationship quality

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Psychology(all)

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