Christie Bao Rose Hills
The Effects of Stress on Female Reproductive Health
About 15% of reproductive-aged couples worldwide are affected by infertility and an even greater percentage of women experience abnormal uterine bleeding. Risk factors for abnormal female reproductive health include heavy smoking, hormonal disorders, age, obesity, and stress. While chronic or severe stress has been shown to have implications for human health and disease and past research has established harmful effects of stress on reproductive health, the exact mechanisms by which hormones of the stress response interact with neurons regulating the reproductive system are still unknown. This project will examine how corticotropin-releasing hormone (CRH), which is released by the hypothalamus in response to stress, modulates kisspeptin (Kp) neurons, which are involved in the regulation of the reproductive system. Using cell cultures, western blot, and RT-qPCR, I will determine how CRH affects protein and gene expression in Kp neurons and the modulating effects of estradiol. This understanding will be vital in developing treatments and preventative measures for infertility and other reproductive disorders.