Contact Information

Military and Emergency Medicine


Uniformed Services University of the Health Sciences
4301 Jones Bridge Road
Bethesda, Maryland 20814 MEM Office: C1039
Phone (301) 295-3720
Toll Free: (888) 826-3126
FAX (301) 295-6773
Email: patricia.deuster@usuhs.edu

Pubmed listing

Patricia A. Deuster, Ph.D., M.P.H.

Professor, Department of Military and Emergency Medicine

Ph.D., University of Maryland, 1982

Mechanisms of Neuroendocrine and Immune Activation with Stress

Activities in the HPL have focused on the neuroendocrine and immune responses to stress. Dr. Deuster's uses several models for stress: exercise, meal feeding, and mental stress. Exercise is important because she has shown that exercise quantitatively activates the hypothalamic-pituitary adrenal (HPA) axis and other neuroendocrine systems in a dose dependent fashion. Factors that activate and regulate the magnitude of the neuroendocrine responses to stress are being investigated by a variety of treatment/ pharmacologic interventions. For example, the hypothalamic regulators, corticotropin-releasing hormone (CRH) and arginine vasopressin (AVP), the synthetic glucocorticoid, dexamethasone, hydrocortisone, and various substances used by recreational and competitive athletes (fluid replacement beverages, DHEA, amino acids, and creatine supplements) are of interest.

Other projects relate to alterations in the HPA axis in clinical conditions, such as depression, seasonal affective disorder, fibromyalgia, obesity, and chronic fatigue syndrome. In addition, we are interested in differential stress reactivity within the normal population. Specifically, we are seeking to determine the role of stress reactivity in health and disease and how regular exercise may regulate/activate the HPA axis. Current efforts in stress reactivity are focused on different populations as a function of gender, ethnicity, and body weight, with particular interests in African Americans and Asians.

Dr. Deuster's focus is primarily human research and involves both laboratory and field studies; however, animal and cell culture models can be used to address specific hypotheses. Human research involves exercise testing under a variety of treatment conditions and protocols, stimulation tests using agents such as CRH and AVP during exercise or under conditions of rest, mental stress testing, performing various physical tasks, and collection of tissue specimens, mainly blood and saliva samples. Ongoing biochemical procedures in the HPL include basic radioimmunoassays and ELISA techniques, lymphocyte activation assays, glucocorticoid receptor assessment, genotyping, and other procedures related to endocrine function.