Synthia Mellon, PhD

Recall Professor
Department of Obstetrics Gynecology & Reproductive Sciences
Research Overview: 

Our laboratory studies the regulation of steroid hormone synthesis, by analyzing the transcriptional regulation of the steroidogenic enzymes, and the mechanism of action of steroids in both steroidogenic tissues and in the nervous system, where we identified the developmental and regional expression of steroidogenic enzymes and some novel actions of steroids on neuronal function. Steroid hormones are regulators of a multitude of physiologic processes, and act primarily by activating nuclear receptors, which are transcriptional regulators of various genes. However in the nervous system, where we found steroidogenic enzymes and synthesis of a novel class of steroid, called neurosteroids, neurosteroids modulate ion flux through the ion gated GABA A and NMDA receptors, and regulation of their synthesis results in changes in behavior, learning, and memory. We delineated the ontogeny and sites of steroidogenic enzyme expression , and showed that neurosteroids affect neuronal development by specifically modulating either axonal or dendritic growth and neuronal differentiation.Their actions throughout life may maintain the integrity of neural connections, and demise of neurosteroid synthesis may result in loss of memory associated with some age-related neurologic diseases. Our studies thus rely on a number of different experimental paradigms, from molecular biologic analysis of gene structure and transcription factors to developmental and cell biology of neuronal development and function.

Primary Thematic Area: 
Developmental & Stem Cell Biology
Secondary Thematic Area: 
Research Summary: 
Developmental Regulation, Molecular Biology and Novel Actions of Steroid/Neurosteroid Synthesis

Blood-based mitochondrial respiratory chain function in major depression.

Translational psychiatry

Fernström J, Mellon SH, McGill MA, Picard M, Reus VI, Hough CM, Lin J, Epel ES, Wolkowitz OM, Lindqvist D

Abnormal levels of mitochondrial proteins in plasma neuronal extracellular vesicles in major depressive disorder.

Molecular psychiatry

Goetzl EJ, Wolkowitz OM, Srihari VH, Reus VI, Goetzl L, Kapogiannis D, Heninger GR, Mellon SH

Correction: A DNA methylation clock associated with age-related illnesses and mortality is accelerated in men with combat PTSD.

Molecular psychiatry

Yang R, Wu GWY, Verhoeven JE, Gautam A, Reus VI, Kang JI, Flory JD, Abu-Amara D, Hood L, Doyle FJ, Yehuda R, Marmar CR, Jett M, Hammamieh R, Mellon SH, Wolkowitz OM

Serum brain-derived neurotrophic factor remains elevated after long term follow-up of combat veterans with chronic post-traumatic stress disorder.


Wu GWY, Wolkowitz OM, Reus VI, Kang JI, Elnar M, Sarwal R, Flory JD, Abu-Amara D, Hammamieh R, Gautam A, Doyle FJ, Yehuda R, Marmar CR, Jett M, Mellon SH, SBPBC

Utilization of machine learning for identifying symptom severity military-related PTSD subtypes and their biological correlates.

Translational psychiatry

Siegel CE, Laska EM, Lin Z, Xu M, Abu-Amara D, Jeffers MK, Qian M, Milton N, Flory JD, Hammamieh R, Daigle BJ, Gautam A, Dean KR, Reus VI, Wolkowitz OM, Mellon SH, Ressler KJ, Yehuda R, Wang K, Hood L, Doyle FJ, Jett M, Marmar CR