A first generation mathematical model linking the Hypothalamic- Pituitary-Adrenal axis (HPA) to the Hypothalamic-Pituitary-Gonadal axis (HPG)


Lead AcademicCo-InvestigatorsCentre Fellow(s)Secondee
Kevin O'Byrne

Margaritas Voliotis (CEMPS)

Xiao Feng Li

Krasimira Tsaneva-Atanasova (CEMPS)

Stafford Lightman

Jamie Walker

Eder Zavala

Tanja Zerenner



Lay summary:

It is becoming increasingly accepted that stress is one of the major lifestyle factors influencing fertility. The body’s response to stress is mediated by a number of hormones: a critical one being cortisol. Cortisol is secreted from the adrenals in dynamic pulses, which are altered in response to physical or psychological stressors. Experimental evidence collected in recent years suggests that the pulses of stress hormones and those of reproductive hormones may be intertwined, but to date little effort has been made to develop a theory of how their interplay might influence their mutual dynamic regulation.

Our project aims to develop a mathematical model to describe how such interactions might occur. To do this, we will use tools designed to explore how oscillatory systems behave when they are coupled together, and how altering an oscillation in one system may affect the other. This understanding will suggest to us possible mechanisms through which stress-related infertility may occur. Building from this project, we will apply for funding to experimentally test the suggestions made by our mathematical model. This could ultimately support the development of novel clinical interventions treating infertility that take into account the “timing” of stressors and the body’s response to them.