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PD Dr. Stefan Reber



Welcome to the

Group leader: PD Dr. Stefan O. Reber

Chronic psychosocial stress during adulthood has been shown to be a risk factor for the development of many somatic disorders, including Morbus Crohn and Ulcerative Colitis (=inflammatory bowel diseases; IBD), as well as of several psychopathologies, including anxiety disorders and major depression. Due to a lack of appropriate and clinically relevant animal models the underlying aetiology of these disorders is still poorly understood.

Effects of chronic psychosocial stress on physiological, neuroendocrine, and immunological parameters.
Chronic stress is a general burden of modern societies, but due to the lack of appropriate animal models its possible role in the pathogenesis of affective and/or somatic disorders is still poorly understood. Therefore, we established several clinically relevant models of chronic psychosocial stress for male mice and rats and studied in detail their effects on behavioural, physiological, neuroendocrine, and immunological parameters.

Thereby, in collaboration with Dr. David Slattery we could already show that chronic psychosocial stress reliably results in an increased anxiety-related behaviour (Chronic psychosocial stress and mood disorders) . This was found on the elevated plus-maze (Reber et al. 2007, 2008a,c), in the open field (Reber et. al. 2008b), in the light-dark box (Reber et al. 2008c), and during open arm exposure (Singewald et. al. 2009).

In contrast to the generally accepted hypothesis of chronic stress-induced hypercorticism being causally involved in the development of several psychopathologies in humans, the increased level of anxiety in our animals was accompanied by a decreased glucocorticoid (GC) signalling (adrenal insufficiency & glucocorticoid insensitivity; Reber et. al. 2007, 2008a; Schmidt el al. 2010; Chronic psychosocial stress and HPA axis function & Chronic psychosocial stress and feed-back regulation of HPA axis). However, in line with what is described in the literature, this decreased glucocorticoid signalling was paralleled by an increased risk for the development of inflammatory disorders (Chronic psychosocial stress and colitis).

Chronically stressed mice did both, they developed spontaneous colitis (Reber et al. 2007, 2008a, 2011) as well as showed an increased severity of a chemically-induced (DSS) colonic inflammation (Reber et al. 2006, 2008a; for review see Reber 2011). Whether a chronic stress-induced decrease in GC signalling is generally as well as causally involved in the development of severel stress-linked patholgies is currently in the focus of our research.

Recently, we also started in collaboration with Prof. Dr. Charlotte Förster (University of Würzburg) and Prof. Dr. Gabrielly Lundkvist (Karolinska Istitute, Stockholm, Sweden) to investigating whether chronic psychosocial stress affects the internal clock and whether this effect is dependent on the time of day of stressor exposure (Chronic psychosocial and the internal clock).

Detailed project descriptions 

1. Chronic psychosocial stress and colitis (DFG RE-2911/2-1)

2. Chronic psychosocial stress and mood disorders
(In collaboration with Dr. David A. Slattery (DFG SL-141/4-1)

3. Chronic psychosocial stress and HPA axis function (DFG RE-2911/5-1)

4. Chronic psychosocial stress and feed back regulation of the HPA axis (DFG RE-2911/5-1)

5. Chronic psychosocial stress and the internal clock (DFG FO-207/13-1)




Habilitation in Zoology at the University of Regensburg to achieve the "Dr. habil." and Privatdozent PD
Habilitation thesis: "Chronic psychosocial stress and its effects on behavioural, neuroendocrine, and immunological parameters."

2009 - present

Junior Group Leader of the “Chronic Stress Group” in Prof. Neumann's lab at the University of Regensburg, Germany


Post-doctoral researcher in Prof. Neumann's lab at the University of Regensburg, Germany


PhD („Chronic psychosocial stress and colitis: Physiological, neuroendocrine, and immunological studies with male C57BL/6 mice”)


PhD student in the lab of Prof. Inga Neumann at the University of Regensburg


„1. Staatsexamen” at the University of Bayreuth (Diploma/Master thesis: "Sozialer Stress und Verteilungsmuster von T-Lymphozyten bei männlichen Laborratten: Wanderung aus dem Blut in lymphatische Organe und die Haut")


studies for becoming a teacher in biology and chemistry at the University of Bayreuth

Born: August 21st, 1978 in Weiden, Germany

Grants / Awards


DFG Grant (RE2911/5-1): Mechanisms underlying CSC-induced breakdown of HPA axis functions


Ernst und Berta Scharrer Preis (together with Nicole Uschold)


DFG Grant (RE2911/2-1): Impact of chronic psychosocial stress on the intestinal homeostasis - mechanisms underlying stress-induced colitis


Ismar Boas Preis





Nyuyki KD, Beiderbeck DI, Lukas M, Neumann ID, Reber SO. Chronic Subordinate Colony Housing (CSC) as a Model of Chronic Psychosocial Stress in Male Rats. PLoS One 7(12): e52371


Bartlang MS, Neumann ID, Slattery DA, Uschold-Schmidt N, Kraus D, Helfrich-Förster C, Reber SO. Time matters: pathological effects of repeated psychosocial stress during the active, but not inactive, phase of male mice. Journal of Endocrinology 215(3): 425-37


Beiderbeck DI, Reber SO, Havasi A, Bredewold R, Veenema AH, Neumann ID. High and abnormal forms of aggression in rats with extremes in trait anxiety - Involvement of the dopamine system in the nucleus accumbens. Psychoneuroendocrinology in press

Uschold-Schmidt N, Nyuyki KD, Füchsl AM, Neumann ID, Reber SO. Chronic psychosocial stress results in sensitization of the HPA axis to acute heterotypic stressors despite a reduction of adrenal in vitro ACTH responsiveness. Psychoneuroendocrinology in press

Nyuyki KD, Maloumby R, Reber SO, Neumann ID. Effect of blood collection technique on plasma corticosterone concentrations in the mice under different stress conditions.Stress in press

Peters S, Grunwald N, Rümmele P, Endlicher E, Lechner A, Neumann ID, Obermeier F, Reber SO. Chronic psychosocial stress increases the risk for inflammation-related colon carcinogenesis in male mice. Stress in press

Slattery DA, Uschold N, Magoni M, Baer J, Popoli M, Neumann ID, Reber SO. Behavioural consequences of two chronic psychosocial stress paradigms: anxiety without depression. Psychoneuroendocrinology 37(5): 702-14

Reber SO. Stress and animal models of inflammatory bowel disease – an update on the role of the hypothalamo-pituitary-adrenal axis. Review article Psychoneuroendocrinology37(1): 1-19


Hillerer K, Reber SO, Neumann ID, Slattery DA. Exposure to chronic pregnancy stress reverses peripartum-associated adaptations: implications for postpartum anxiety and mood disorders. Endocrinology 152(10):3930-40

Lukas M, Toth I, Reber SO, Slattery DA, Veenema AH, Neumann ID. The neuropeptide oxytocin facilitates pro-social behavior and prevents social avoidance in rats and mice. Neuropsychopharmacology 36(11):2159-68

Reber SO, Peters S, Slattery DA, Hofmann C, Schölmerich J, Neumann ID, Obermeier F. Mucosal immunosuppression and epithelial barrier defects are key events in murine psychosocial stress-induced colitis. Brain, Behavior, and Immunity 25(6): 1153-1161


Reber SO, Schmidt D, Botteron C, Barth T, Peterlik D, Uschold N, Neumann ID, Männel DN, Lechner A. Chronic psychosocial stress drives systemic immune activation and the development of inflammatory Th cell responses. Brain, Behavior, and Immunity24: 1097–1104.


Singewald GM, Nguyen NK, Neumann ID, Singewald N, Reber SO Effect of chronic psychosocial stress induced by subordinate colony (CSC) housing on brain neuronal activity patterns in mice. Stress 12:58-69


Reber SO and Neumann ID Defensive Behavioral Strategies and Enhanced State Anxiety during Chronic Subordinate Colony Housing Are Accompanied by Reduced Hypothalamic
Vasopressin, But Not Oxytocin, Expression. AnnalsNYASci 1148:184-195

Reber SO, Veenema AH, Selch S, Obermeier F, Neumann ID Early Life Stress Enhances the Vulnerability to Chronic Psychosocial Stress and Experimental
Colitis in Adult Mice. Endocrinology 149:2727-2736

Reber SO, Obermeier F, Straub RH, Veenema AH, Neumann ID Aggravation of DSS-induced colitis after chronic subordinate colony (CSC) housing is partially mediated by adrenal. Stress 11:225-234


Reber SO, Birkeneder L, Veenema AH, Obermeier F, Falk W, Straub RH, Neumann ID Adrenal Insufficiency and Colonic Inflammation after a Novel Chronic Psycho-Social Stress Paradigm in Mice: Implications and Mechanisms. Endocrinology 148:670-682


Reber SO, Obermeier F, Straub RH, Falk W, Neumann ID 2006 Chronic intermittent psychosocial stress (social defeat/overcrowding) in mice increases the severity of an acute DSS-induced colitis and impairs regeneration. Endocrinology 147:4968-4976


Stefanski V, Peschel A, Reber SO Social stress affects migration of blood T cells into lymphoid organs. J Neuroimmunol 138:17-24



PhD Students:

Nicole Uschold-Schmidt

Kewir Nyuyki

Andrea Füchsl

Sebastian Peters

Manuela Bartlang


Nicole Grunwald

  1. Fakultäten
  2. Fakultät für Biologie und Vorklinische Medizin

Prof. Dr. Stefan Reber