Aditi Bhargava, PhD

Director of Laboratory Research
Department of Ob/Gyn and the Center for Reproductive Sciences
+1 415 476-3336
Research Overview: 

The overarching goal of my research is to understand the sex-specific molecular and cellular actions of the stress hormones and their receptors that operate in health and disease. Stressors, whether perceived, physical, or environmental are pervasive in our lives. An estimated 57 million people in the United States ¬– twice as many women as men – suffer from stress-related disorders, including anxiety, depression, Type 2 diabetes, autoimmune diseases, pain, infertility, and gastrointestinal disorders. Past studies and ongoing research in my laboratory has revealed that, in the short-term, females handle stress and inflammation better than males. Interestingly, once the stressor is removed, cellular and molecular responses in males return to near baseline levels, whereas in females, responses do not return to baseline. In the long-term, under conditions of repeated stress, the threshold needed to perturb homeostasis is reached with fewer insults in females, making them more susceptible to chronic stress-related disorders. While it is recognized that sex differences exist in etiology and symptoms for many diseases that range from psychological to cardiovascular, many new drugs fail in clinical trials for these indications, as they do not show efficacy in one or the other sex. This is because risk factors and genetic factors that predispose men and women to the same disease differ. We hypothesize that subsets of paths taken to reach the same destination differ between the sexes, while others are common. For both men and women, a challenge that persists is, that current treatments are non-specific and not targeted to “their” specific sites where stress is leading to disease. To better understand sex differences in health, it is key to differentiate between the contribution of gonadal (sex) hormones and sex chromosome (X or Y) complement. Our experimental approaches are designed to investigate the molecular basis for stress-related disorders in an integrated manner using animal models of human diseases, tissues obtained from patients, cell and molecular biology techniques, and bioinformatics. We are interested in combining our lab-based approaches with effective approaches used for stress management to help break the stress-disease connection and to translate our findings from the bench-to-bedside.

Book Chapters
  1. Heat Shock Proteins (HSP) in stress-related inflammatory diseases. Burcu Hasdemir, Dina Shakran, Sreenivasan Paruthiyil, Aditi Bhargava (2019). Book Title: Heat Shock Proteins in Signaling Pathways. Series Title: Heat Shock Proteins. Series Volume: 17, edition 1. Series ISSN: 1877-1246. Publisher: Springer International Publishing AG. Editor(s) name(s): Prof. Dr. Alexzander A. A. Asea and Dr. Punit Kaur.
  2. Probing the Interactome of Corticotropin-Releasing Factor Receptor Heteromers using Mass Spectrometry. Burcu Hasdemir, Juan Oses-Prieto, Alma Burlingame, and Aditi Bhargava.  (2019) Methods Mol Biol. 2019;1947:269-285. doi: 10.1007/978-1-4939-9121-1_15. PMID: 30969422. Book Title: G-Protein-Coupled Receptor Signaling: Methods and Protocols. Part IV, Chapter 15, Exploring GPCR Signaling Properties. Series Title: MiMB. Publisher: Springer Science+Business Media, LLC, New York. Editor(s) name(s): Mario Tiberi, PhD.
Primary Thematic Area: 
Tissue / Organ Biology & Endocrinology
Secondary Thematic Area: 
Research Summary: 
Gut-brain cross-talk: mediation by stress hormone system


Featured Publications: 

Enriched environment and stress exposure influence splenic B lymphocyte composition.

PloS one

Gurfein BT, Hasdemir B, Milush JM, Touma C, Palme R, Nixon DF, Darcel N, Hecht FM, Bhargava A

Actin Cytoskeleton-Dependent Regulation of Corticotropin-releasing Factor Receptor Heteromers.

Molecular biology of the cell

Hasdemir B, Mahajan S, Oses-Prieto J, Chand S, Woolley M, Burlingame A, Grammatopoulos DK, Bhargava A

Gastric corticotropin-releasing factor influences mast cell infiltration in a rat model of functional dyspepsia.

PloS one

Hagiwara SI, Kaushal E, Paruthiyil S, Pasricha PJ, Hasdemir B, Bhargava A

Mast Cell CRF2 Suppresses Mast Cell Degranulation and Limits the Severity of Anaphylaxis and Stress-Induced Intestinal Permeability.

The Journal of allergy and clinical immunology

D'Costa S, Ayyadurai S, Gibson AJ, Mackey E, Rajput M, Sommerville LJ, Wilson N, Li Y, Kubat E, Kumar A, Subramanian H, Bhargava A, Moeser AJ

Sexually dimorphic metabolic responses mediated by CRF2 receptor during nutritional stress in mice.

Biology of sex differences

Paruthiyil S, Hagiwara SI, Kundassery K, Bhargava A

Protective effects of urocortin 2 against caerulein-induced acute pancreatitis.

PloS one

Yuan J, Hasdemir B, Tan T, Chheda C, Rivier J, Pandol SJ, Bhargava A