Warfighter Neuroendocrinology: Modeling Stress Response, PTSD, and TBI
Technical Report,01 Sep 2014,31 Aug 2017
California State University - Northridge Northridge United States
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Stress related disorders affect multiple biological functions from endocrine system regulation to brain circuitry connectivity. Identifying the mechanisms that lead to the development of such disorders has been an active area of research, with a particular emphasis placed on understanding the dynamics of post-traumatic stressdisorders PTSD. Although many advances have been made, how PTSD emerges and evolves is still unclear. Experimental studies are challenged by incongruent diagnostic criteria and confounding treatment protocols. Understanding PTSD is not a simple task as there is no reliable biological predictor or marker for PTSD and diagnoses are heavily reliant on self-reporting. Current treatments include psychotherapy and pharmacotherapy it is not very clear how the two intervention methods inform each other and they are not always very successful. In part, these challenges are due to the lack of a comprehensive understanding of the biological processes and systems that are affected by PTSD and how they respond and interact with each other under stress. The goal of this research is to develop and analyze a mathematical model that includes the relevant physiological features involved in stress response regulation. Among the many promising avenues of investigation is the study of the hypothalamus-pituitary-adrenal HPA axis, that receives input from stress and that regulates cortisol production in the body. Cortisol is one of the main hormones of the body and helps regulate metabolism, mood, and sexuality among other functions. It is also observed that often, PTSD patients suffer from hypo-cortisolism, so that cortisol levels can be used as a possible biomarker, although not all PTSD patients suffer from low cortisol expression. Existing models for the HPA axis in the mathematical literature are not comprehensive and do not reproduce all the rich features that are instead observed in the medical literature.
- Stress Physiology
- Anatomy and Physiology