Richard Kvetnansky – 45 years of Stress Research

Richard Kvetnansky – 45 years of Stress Research

Richard Kvetnansky, M.D., is the head of the Laboratory of Stress Research at the Institute of Experimental Endocrinology, Slovak Academy of Sciences in Bratislava, Slovakia. He was a director of the Institute for eight years.

Dr. Kvetnansky, an experimental endocrinologist, has performed seminal work in the field of the sympathoadrenal system activity during stress. Early in his research career he developed several novel stress models including immobilization stress in rodents under the mentorship of Dr. Irwin Kopin and later, Nobel Prize winner Julius Axelrod, in the Laboratory of Clinical Science, NIMH, NIH, in Bethesda, MD. Utilizing the stress models Dr. Kvetnansky contributed to research of stress response specificity.

His main scientific activities and findings include:

  • Development of sensitive radioenzymatic methods for simultaneous determination of epinephrine, norepinephrine and dopamine concentration in plasma (obtained by non-stress cannulation method) as well as in small samples of tissues (obtained from the brain by micro-punching method).
  • Demonstrated that repeated stress induces increases in catecholamine biosynthesis and increase in activity of biosynthetic enzymes in the adrenal medulla, sympathetic ganglia and several brain nuclei.
  • Described minor psychosocial stressor effects on plasma catecholamine levels using cannulation method.
  • Using combination of adrenalectomy, medullectomy and sympathectomy he proved that the adrenal medulla is almost the exclusive source of circulating epinephrine (adrenaline) and that about 30% of circulating norepinephrine (noradrenaline) is released from the adrenal glands, while the remaining plasma norepinephrine is derived by the sympathetic nerve endings.
  • Increased activity of the sympathoadrenal system in repeatedly stressed rats is due to increased activity of enzymes responsible for catecholamine biosynthesis as well as decreased degradation of catecholamines.
  • Nervous and endocrine mechanisms are involved in regulation of increased plasma catecholamine levels in repeatedly stressed animals. He showed evidence for adrenal medulla and adrenal cortex hormone interactions under stress.
  • Determination of catecholamines and their biosynthetic enzymes in 25 nuclei of hypothalamus and brain stem in repeatedly stressed rats. Obtained data documented the importance of these brain structures in regulation of neuroendocrine stress response.
  • From the clinical point of view, important observations that increased concentrations of catecholamines and their biosynthetic enzymes in tissues and plasma are found in spontaneously hypertensive rats exposed to stressors.

Dr. Kvetnansky was involved in many national and international research projects. He also participated in the ‘Stefanik’ project, related to a space flight of the first Slovak astronaut. Experiments performed at the space station Mir showed exaggerated response of sympathoadrenal system to workload in microgravity.

Dr. Kvetnansky has published over 350 papers. According to the Institute of Scientific Information, Dr. Kvetnansky is one of the most cited scientists in the field of life sciences in Slovakia; with over 7,000 citations.

Dr. Kvetnansky is well-known for his networking activities and organization of scientific meetings. For several decades, he has been an organizer of symposia at the Smolenice castle, Slovakia, meetings that are recognized for their excellent scientific quality and warm hospitality. In 2011, he organized the 10th Symposium on Catecholamines and Other Neurotransmitters in Stress. Dr. Kvetnansky has supervised more than 20 PhD students and a majority of those have chosen to follow in his path into stress research.

Boris Mravec, M.D., Ph.D
Richard Imrich, M.D., Ph.D

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