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Aditi Bhargava, PhD
Aditi Bhargava, PhD

Professor in Residence
Center for Reproductive Sciences

Contact Information

Mailing Address: 513 Parnassus Ave, Box 0556,
San Francisco, CA 94143
Office: (415) 502-8453

(415) 476-3336

Research Interests

The overarching goal of our research is to understand the molecular and cellular mechanisms by which corticotropin-releasing factor (CRF) family of neuropeptides and their G-protein coupled receptors mediate effect of stress on physiology, including changes at cellular level.

An estimated 57 million people in the US alone suffer from stress-related disorders. Twice as many women as men suffer from these conditions, which include autoimmune disorders, anxiety and depression. The same disease has gender-specific outcomes, but the cellular basis for these gender differences is not understood. The CRF system consists of the neuropeptides CRF and Urocortins 1-3 (Ucn1-3), and two G protein-coupled receptors (GPCRs), CRF1 and CRF2.The CRF family coordinates stress responses by acting both as a hormone to initiate the hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal axis and as a neuromodulator in the brain and the periphery. Our research is focused on elucidating the precise role of the CRF system in mediating sex-specific cellular signaling and stress responses.

With acute or prolonged stress, CRF responses in the brain are more likely to shift into a dysregulated state in females. Others and we have shown that increased Ucn1 expression correlates with inflammatory resolution and protects against inducible inflammation. In contrast, CRFR2 dysfunction exacerbates inflammation and delays healing. Despite the preponderance of stress-related diseases in females, use of female animal subjects is perpetually lacking gender-specific molecular pathogenesis in disease responses remain vastly understudied.

The effect of stress is nowhere as profound as it is on the health of an unborn child and that of the pregnant mother. Besides being a major stress hormone, CRF also serves as the placental clock in most animals and that during pregnancy its levels steadily increase to go up over 10,000-fold during human labor. However, the role of CRF system in human pregnancy and pre-natal health remains poorly defined.

The work in my lab is characterized by its use of male and female animals and side-by-side comparison of cellular components that determine sex-specific responses. We use a combination of technically challenging cell biology approaches such as mass spectrometry, electron microscopy, and deep sequencing to identify and localize cellular interacting partners in tissue samples obtained from in vivo animal models of human disease and patient tissues.


1986 University of Rajasthan, Jaipur, India B.Sc. Zoology
1988 University of Pune, India M.Sc. Molecular Biology
1995 University of Pune, India Ph.D.

Molecular Biology

Achievements & Recognition

2011 T1 Translational Catalyst Award from CTSI, UCSF
2012 Inducted Fellow of the American Gastroenterological Association (AGAF)
2012 NIH/NIDDK Member Study Section (CIMG), Temporary member
2012 Organized Health Disparities in Endocrinology Summit, The Endocrine Society
2012-2015 Member, Research Affairs Core Committee (RACC), The Endocrine Society
2013-2016 Member, Breakthroughs in Bioscience Subcommittee, FASEB
2013 Nominated for the “2014 Ernest Oppenheimer Laureate Award”
2013 Member, CSR IAM Study section ZRG1 IFCN-Z (02)
2014 Nominated for the “2015 Weitzman Award”, The Endocrine Society
2014 Member, NIH/CSR DKUS Special Emphasis Panel
2014 Organized and Moderated, “Inaugural Translational Research Workshop” at ICE/ENDO 2014
2015 Chaired and Organized, “Translational Research Workshop” at ICE/ENDO
2015 Member, NIH/ CSR Study section ZRG1 IFCN-Z (02)
2015 Member, NIH/CSR Study Section ZRG1 IFCN- B-04M (October)

Selected Publications

  1. Gong K, Kung L-H, Magni G, Bhargava A, Jasmin L. 2014. Increased response to glutamate in small diameter dorsal root ganglion neurons after sciatic nerve injury. PloS One; 2014. Apr 18;9(4):e95491. PMID: 24748330; PMCID: PMC3991716
  2. Mahajan S, Liao M, Barkan, P, Takahashi K, Bhargava A. 2014. Urocortin 3 expression at baseline and during inflammation in the colon: Corticotropin releasing factor receptors cross-talk. Peptides; 2014 Apr;54:58-66. PMID: 24462512; PMCID: PMC4006935
  3. Kido M, Buddenkotte J, Kempkes C, Ikoma A, Cevikbas F, Akiyama T, Nunes F, Seeliger S, Hasdemir B, Mess C, Buhl T, Sulk M, Ulrich F, Metze D, Bunnett NW, Bhargava A, Carstens E, Furue M, Steinhoff M. 2014. Neural peptidase endothelin-coverting enzyme 1 regulates endothelin-1-induced pruritis. Journal of Clinical Invesitgation; 2014; 124(6):2683-95. PMID: 24812665; PMCID: PMC4038561
  4. Gong K, Bhargava A, Jasmin L. 2015. GluN2B NMDA receptor and excitatory amino acid transporter 3 are upregulated in primary sensory neurons after seven days of morphine administration in rats: implication for opiate-induced hyperalgesia. Pain. PMID: 26335908
  5. Liu S, Chang J, Long N, Beckwith K, Talhouarne G, Brokks JJ, Qu M-H, Ren W, Wood JD, Cooper S, Bhargava A. 2015. Endogenous CRF in rat large intestine mediates motor and secretory responses to stress. Neurogastroenterology and Motility Nov 26. PMID: 26611915