Professor Hans Reul

Photo of Professor Hans Reul

Professor Hans Reul

Dorothy Hodgkin Building, Whitson Street, Bristol
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Telephone Number (0117) 331 3137


School of Clinical Sciences

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Epigenetics of stress-related learning and memory

Research overview

My research group investigates how the organism responds and adapts to stressful events.

Major research interests are:

  1. The signalling, epigenetic and genomic mechanisms in the brain underlying stress-related learning and memory processes.

  2. The regulation of the hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal (HPA) axis under baseline and stress conditions.

  3. The physiological and neurobiological mechanisms underlying the beneficial effects of voluntary exercise on stress coping, HPA axis regulation, and anxiety-related and cognitive behaviour.


My research group investigates how the organism responds and adapts to stressful events. The emphasis is on how we learn and form memories of emotionally stressful events in our lives so we can respond better if such events should reoccur.

Our research programme addresses the role of signalling, epigenetic and genomic processes in the brain in the consolidation of adaptive behavioural responses and memory. Furthermore, we are investigating the role of adult neurogenesis in the dentate gyrus in these processes and responses.

Behavioural responses and memory formation are investigated in the forced swim test, Morris water maze learning and contextual fear conditioning. Our neuroanatomical and molecular expertise includes immuno-fluorescence analysis, lentiviral technology (in collaboration with Professor James Uney (UoB)) and state-of-the-art epigenetic methods such as chromatin-immuno-precipitation (nChIP, xChIP), next generation Illumina sequencing and bisulfite sequencing (in collaboration with Dr. Jon Mill, King’s College London).

Key words

stress, learning and memory, epigenetics, signalling pathways, hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenocortical axis, glucocorticoid hormone, neurogenesis, behaviour, exercise

Diseases related to this field of research

Major Depression, Anxiety, Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD)

Processes and functions relevant to this work

neuronal plasticity, intracellular signalling pathways, chromatin remodelling, gene transcription, Hypothalamo-pituitary-adrenal (HPA) axis regulation, behavioural adaptation, learning and memory

Research group

Sylvia Carter, Karen Mifsud, Richard Saliba, Emily Saunderson

Techniques in routine use

Immunohistochemistry, In situ hybridisation, stress tests, behavioural tests, radioimmunoassays, microdialysis (in collaboration with Professor Astrid C.E. Linthorst)

Equipment in routine use

(Confocal) microscope, stereotactic instruments, HPLC-ECD (collaboration with Professor Linthorst)


Dr Jonathan Mill - King's College London, Professor James Uney - University of Bristol, Professor Astrid C.E. Linthorst - University of Bristol, Professor Lou Muglia - Washington University St Louis USA, Professor David Nutt - Imperial College London


Unit Director of Unit 6 "Integrative Molecular Neuroscience" in MSc Molecular Neuroscience at HW-LINE (click here for course details).

Unit Director of Unit 7 "Research Project" in MSc Molecular Neuroscience at HW-LINE (click here for course details).

Public engagement

Neurobiology and neuroendocrinology of stress

Key publications

  1. Gutierrez-Mecinas, M, Trollope, A, Collins, A, Morfett, H, Hesketh, S, Kersante, F & Reul, J 2011, ‘Long-lasting behavioral responses to stress involve a direct interaction of glucocorticoid receptors with ERK1/2-MSK1-Elk-1 signaling’. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America, vol 108., pp. 13806 - 13811
  2. Mifsud, K, Gutierrez-Mecinas, M, Trollope, A, Collins, A, Saunderson, E & Reul, J 2011, ‘Epigenetic mechanisms in stress and adaptation’. Brain, Behavior, and Immunity, vol 25(7)., pp. 1305 - 1315
  3. Linthorst, A & Reul, J 2010, ‘The impact of stress on serotonergic neurotransmission’. in: CP Müller, BL Jacobs (eds) Handbook of Behavioral Neurobiology of Serotonin. Academic Press, pp. 475 - 491
  4. Droste, S-K, Collins, A, Lightman, S, Linthorst, A & Reul, J 2009, ‘Distinct, time-dependent effects of voluntary exercise on circadian and ultradian rhythms and stress responses of free corticosterone in the rat hippocampus’. Endocrinology, vol 150., pp. 4170 - 4179
  5. Droste, S-K, Groote, Ld, Lightman, S, Reul, J & Linthorst, A 2009, ‘The ultradian and circadian rhythms of free corticosterone in the brain are not affected by gender: an in vivo microdialysis study in Wistar rats’. Journal of Neuroendocrinology, vol 21., pp. 132 - 140

Latest publications

  1. Kersanté, F, Rowley, SCS, Pavlov, I, Gutièrrez-Mecinas, M, Semyanov, A, Reul, JMHM, Walker, MC & Linthorst, ACE 2013, ‘A functional role for both GABA transporter-1 and GABA transporter-3 in the modulation of extracellular GABA and GABAergic tonic conductances in the rat hippocampus’. The Journal of Physiology, vol 591., pp. 2429-2441
  2. Qian, X, Droste, SK, Lightman, SL, Reul, JMHM & Linthorst, ACE 2012, ‘Circadian and Ultradian Rhythms of Free Glucocorticoid Hormone Are Highly Synchronized between the Blood, the Subcutaneous Tissue, and the Brain’. Endocrinology, vol 153., pp. 4346-4353
  3. Papadopoulos, A, Chandramohan, Y, Collins, A, Droste, S, Nutt, D & Reul, J 2011, ‘GABAergic control of stress-responsive epigenetic and gene expression mechanisms in the dentate gyrus’. European Neuropsychopharmacology, vol 21., pp. 316 - 324
  4. Qian, X, Droste, S, Gutièrrez-Mecinas, M, Collins, A, Kersanté, F, Reul, J & Linthorst, A 2011, ‘A Rapid Release of Corticosteroid-Binding Globulin from the Liver Restrains the Glucocorticoid Hormone Response to Acute Stress’. Endocrinology, vol 152., pp. 3738 - 3748
  5. Reul, J, Collins, A & Gutierrez-Mecinas, M 2011, ‘Stress effects on the brain: Intracellular signaling cascades, epigenetic mechanisms and implications for behavior’. in: CD Conrad (eds) Handbook of Stress: Neuropsychological Effects on the Brain. Wiley-Blackwell, pp. 95 - 112

Full publications list in the University of Bristol publications system

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