Virginia Tech School of Neuroscience Faculty Recruitment Seminar     

Kathleen Morrison, Ph.D.
Postdoctoral Research Associate
University of Maryland School of Medicine

  • Dicember 4, 2018
  • 11:00 a.m. – 12:00 p.m.
  • Fralin Auditorium

Clinical and animal studies have suggested that females may be more susceptible to stress during puberty. However, the mechanisms underlying these findings are very poorly understood. I have developed a novel and translationally-relevant pubertal stress model that enables the examination of both the consequences of pubertal stress and how that experience interacts with later life experiences, such as pregnancy. In this model, pubertal stress produces a disruption of the hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal (HPA) axis response to acute stress only in females and only during pregnancy. To understand this phenomenon, we have probed several aspects of this phenotype, including lasting epigenetic changes enacted by pubertal stress and the conditions of pregnancy that unmask the phenotype. In this talk, I will discuss findings that support the overarching hypothesis that stress dysregulation during pregnancy results from an interaction of pubertal stress reprogramming of the PVN with pregnancy-related increases in allopregnanolone, and that this dysregulation represents an underlying factor that increases disease risk. Together, these studies provide novel insight into the mechanisms underlying female-relevant risk factors for stress dysregulation, a central endophenotype of affective disorders.

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For more information, contact Jonathan Hedrick