Principal Investigator:Nina Stachenfeld, PhD
Director of the Laboratory for Metabolic Testing and Performance, and Fellow
The John B. Pierce Laboratory
Senior Research Scientist
Obstetrics, Gynecology & Reproductive Sciences,
Yale School of Medicine
Chair, Women Faculty Forum
Committee on the Status of Women in Medicine (SWIM), Executive Committee
Yale School of Medicine
My laboratory addresses the interaction between reproductive hormones and cardiovascular function in humans.
Polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS) is the most common reproductive endocrinopathy affecting ~1 in 10 women of reproductive age and is the most common cause of infertility in young women. We study the more severe reproductive and metabolic PCOS phenotype, which is dominated by features of hyperandrogenism and associated with insulin resistance, android type obesity, mild hypertension, early endothelial dysfunction, metabolic syndrome, and atherosclerosis. We study a variety of interventions with this clinical population, including exercise and hormonal interventions to determine the causes of their cardiovascular disease. Our latest project addressed the impact of testosterone on blood pressure dysregulation in women with PCOS.
Endometriosis is an estrogen dependent gynecological disorder associated with considerable chronic pelvic pain and pain during intercourse, which affects 6% – 10% of reproductive age women and is a major cause of infertility. Epidemiologic data demonstrate a clear association between endometriosis, reproductive risk factors, inflammation and cardiovascular disease risk, the leading cause of death in women worldwide. Estrogen exposure is beneficial for women from a cardiovascular standpoint, but the standard of treatment for endometriosis includes estrogen suppression, creating a conundrum for the long-term management of cardiovascular risk in women with endometriosis. We are exploring the impact of losing estrogen protection on the vascular system in women with endometriosis.
In the US approximately 0.7-1.8% or ~ 275,000 youth identify as transgender or having a gender identity that differs from the sex assigned at birth. In transgender men, testosterone treatment with gender affirming hormone therapy (GAHT) is associated with dyslipidemia, thrombosis, increased blood pressure and compromised vascular function. In transgender women, estrogen treatment with androgen suppression results in similar cardiometabolic changes, in addition to changes in insulin resistance and risk of thrombosis. It is likely these large changes in hormonal milieu are central to the link between GAHT and cardiometabolic risk in transgender individuals. This relationship has not been well studied in transgender youth, so our laboratory is currently addressing cardiometabolic changes in transgender adolescents.
Our laboratory has also assisted Yale University Athletics with performance testing on the Men’s and Women’s Hockey, Men’s Football, and Lacrosse teams.
With our colleagues at Penn State (Noll Laboratory) we are studying the effects of estrogen suppression on inflammation and vascular dysfunction in women with endometriosis and the potential use of Selective Estrogen Receptor Modulators (SERMs) and anti-inflammatory interventions to improve vascular function in endometriosis.
In collaboration with our colleagues in the Yale Gender Program we are studying the effects of gender affirming hormone therapy (GAHT) on changes in the vascular system and insulin/glucose regulation in male and female adolescents.
- Welcome Melanie Burgos, NIH diversity fellow with Nina Stachenfeld at The John B. Pierce Laboratory
- Sex differences in endothelial function important to vascular health and overall cardiovascular disease risk across the lifespan
- Dr. Nina Stachenfeld interviewed on NPR Morning Edition (Listen now...)
Research Assistant II