Prof. Dr. Ulrike Ehlert
Dept. of Clinical Psychology
Institute of Psychology
University of Zurich
Tel. +41 44 63 57350
Main Goals, Keywords
- Interaction of the hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal (HPA) axis hormones, immune functions, and autonomic nervous system (ANS).
- Etiological models for effects of acute and chronic stress as well as psychosocial protective and risk factors on endocrine-immune interplay.
- Role of psycho-neuro-endocrine and –immunological processes for the progression of stress related disorders.
The group consists of researchers from the Department of Clinical Psychology and Psychotherapy University Zurich (1 professor, 2 senior research fellows, 4 postdoctoral fellows, 7 PhD students).
Previous and Current Research
The following studies have been conducted by individual members of the group:
- Longitudinal psychoneuroendocrine monitoring of high risk populations for chronic and/or traumatic stress
- Cross-sectional studies on endocrine and psychophysiological reactivity in stress-exposed populations
- Studies of dysfunctions of endocrine-immunological processes in stress-related disorders
- Testing of HPA axis and SAM functioning using pharmacological and non-pharmacological stimulation
Further current studies:
- Longitudinal studies to investigate the relation between immune and endocrine reactivity and long term health outcomes in pregnancy, early childhood, and adulthood
- Studies on the interplay of HPA and SAM in healthy subjects and selected populations of patienrs
- Effects of stress exposure on gene expression
- Association between protective and risk-enhancing psychosocial factors and the progression of stress related disorders
- Prospective cohort studies to elucidate possible pathways: a) chronic activation of the hypothalamic pituitary adrenal axis b) chronic activation of the sympathetic nervous system c) related alterations in functions of immune parameters
- Evaluation of psychophysiological methods for the measurement of parasympathetic activation
- Evaluation of different standardized laboratory human stress tests
Techniques and Equipment
- Ambulatory physiological monitoring and activity monitoring systems
- Cell cultures, fluorescence microscopy
- Event related potentials and psychophysiological biofeed-back methods
- Kuebler U,
Wirtz PH, Sakai M, Stemmer A, Ehlert U. Acute stress reduces wound-induced activation of
microbicidal potential of ex vivo isolated human monocyte-derived macrophages. PLoS One. 2013;8(2):e55875. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0055875. Epub 2013 Feb
- Erni K,
Shaqiri-Emini L, La Marca R, Zimmermann R, Ehlert U. Psychobiological effects of prenatal glucocorticoid
exposure in 10-year-old-children. Front Psychiatry. 2012;3:104. doi: 10.3389/fpsyt.2012.00104.
Epub 2012 Dec 10.
- Perini T, Ditzen B, Fischbacher S, Ehlert U. Testosterone and relationship quality across the transition to fatherhood. Biol Psychol. 2012 Jul;90(3):186-91. Epub 2012 Mar 15.
- Suárez-Hitz KA, Otto B, Bidlingmaier M, Schwizer W, Fried M, Ehlert U. Altered psychobiological responsiveness in women with irritable bowel syndrome. Psychosom Med. 2012 Feb-Mar;74(2):221-31. doi: 10.1097/PSY.0b013e318244fb82. Epub 2012 Jan 27.
Selected Lectures, Seminars or Colloquia
- Einführung in die Verhaltensmedizin
- Psychophysiologie und ihr Bezug zur Klinischen Psychologie
- Research colloquium of the Department of Clinical Psychology and Psychotherapy
Swiss Science Foundation, Jacobs Foundation, Forschungskredit University of Zurich