Date of Completion

Spring 5-8-2011

Thesis Advisor(s)

Michael Lynes

Honors Major

Cell Biology


Cell Biology | Molecular Biology


Various types of stressful conditions can have unique and important effects on immunity and can lead to dramatic consequences to health. For my University Scholar project, the characteristic biomarker signatures produced from a set of diverse stressors (e.g. psychological, biological and chemical) are being investigated. A biomarker signature is a distinctive biological indicator of a specific condition. High-throughput tools for the measurement of different cellular products have the potential to further our understanding of human disease and facilitated the identification of new biomarkers in all areas of medicine. The hypothesis that each form of stress, psychological, chemical and physical, will elicit different biomarker signatures is being tested. In order to examine the biomarker signatures associated with various stressors, samples from individuals who have experiences one of several forms of stress will be evaluated. The biological samples to be tested include human saliva samples taken from patients who had experienced psychological trauma. We hypothesize that distinctive changes to the biomarker signature found in these patients' saliva may facilitate the identification of those with post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and ultimately may enable a more effective treatment regimen. To quantify the differential expression profiles of the salivary components of the biomarker signature (including interleukins, chemokines, TNF, interferon, heat shock proteins, melatonin, and procalcitonin) traditional enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay (ELISA) as well as Surface Plasmon Enhanced Fluorescence (SPEF) techniques will be utilized. By categorizing the unique endogenous responses that are associated with each stressful condition, better diagnosis could be made and the effects of different stresses may be better predicted and controlled. Categorizing and quantifying different biomarker signatures of individuals experiencing different stressors will help provide insight into some of the health consequences which may result from these stressors.