Impact of acute psychosocial stress on peripheral blood gene expression pathways in healthy men

Urs M. Nater, Toni Whistler, William Lonergan, Tanja Mletzko, Suzanne D. Vernon, Christine Heim

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

24 Scopus citations


We investigated peripheral blood mononuclear cell gene expression responses to acute psychosocial stress to identify molecular pathways relevant to the stress response. Blood samples were obtained from 10 healthy male subjects before, during and after (at 0, 30, and 60 min) a standardized psychosocial laboratory stressor. Ribonucleic acid (RNA) was extracted and gene expression measured by hybridization to a 20,000-gene microarray. Gene Set Expression Comparisons (GSEC) using defined pathways were used for the analysis. Forty-nine pathways were significantly changed from baseline to immediately after the stressor (p < 0.05), implicating cell cycle, cell signaling, adhesion and immune responses. The comparison between stress and recovery (measured 30 min later) identified 36 pathways, several involving stress-responsive signaling cascades and cellular defense mechanisms. These results have relevance for understanding molecular mechanisms of the physiological stress response, and might be used to further study adverse health outcomes of psychosocial stress.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)125-132
Number of pages8
JournalBiological Psychology
Issue number2
StatePublished - Oct 2009

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • General Neuroscience
  • Neuropsychology and Physiological Psychology


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