Honors Program

Honors in Psychology

Date of Award


Thesis Professor(s)

Gregory A Ordway

Thesis Professor Department


Thesis Reader(s)

Andrea Clements


Studies have indicated that approximately 30% of people with heart disease experience major depressive disorder (MDD). Despite strong clinical evidence of a link between the two diseases, the neurobiological processes involved in the relationship are poorly understood. A growing number of studies are revealing similar neuroanatomical and neurochemical abnormalities resulting from both depression and heart disease. The locus coeruleus (LC) is a group of neurons in the pons that synthesize and release norepinephrine, and that is known to play a significant role in depression pathobiology. For example, there is evidence that tyrosine hydroxylase (TH) is elevated in the LC in depression. In addition, there is evidence that the LC plays a role in cardiovascular autonomic regulation. The hippocampus is another region that exhibits abnormalities in both depression and heart disease. In this study, the levels of TH in the hippocampus and LC were examined in the guinea pig pressure-overload model of heart disease. TH levels were also measured in the pressure-overload model treated with vagal nerve stimulation, a new investigational therapeutic intervention in heart disease. This study found that there were no changes in TH levels in the LC or the hippocampus of the pressure-overload model or in the pressure-overload model treated with vagal nerve stimulation.


East Tennessee State University

Document Type

Honors Thesis - Withheld

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