About Us : Faculty : Motivala

Sarosh J. Motivala, Ph.D.
Assistant Research Psychologist, Cousins Center for Psychoneuroimmunology,
Department of Psychiatry and Biobehavioral Sciences, UCLA Neuropsychiatric Institute

Research Interests

Dr. Motivala is a clinical-health psychologist interested in relationships between sleep disturbance, stress and the immune system and their sequelae in psychiatric conditions such as major depression and medical populations with chronic pain, namely rheumatoid arthritis. During his post-doctoral fellowship at the Cousins Center, Dr. Motivala found that difficulties in sleep initiation are associated with elevated circulating levels of proinflammatory cytokines in depressed subjects. These findings replicate earlier work done at the Cousins Center with alcohol dependence. In the chronic medical condition rheumatoid arthritis, these same cytokines are involved in disease progression; in addition, this population also has significant sleep difficulties. Yet the relationships between sleep and cytokines in this autoimmune population have not been examined. In a new study with rheumatoid arthritis patients, Dr. Motivala is experimentally testing whether proinflammatory cytokine blockade leads to acute improvements in sleep, especially sleep initiation, and whether this promotes changes in fatigue, pain and depressed mood. In addition, Dr. Motivala is also examining the effects of acute stress on cytokine expression in rheumatoid arthritis, to determine whether short-term stress produces elevations in proinflammatory cytokines.

Current research

Sleep and Cytokines in Rheumatoid Arthritis

P.I./Faculty Sponsor: Daniel Furst, M.D., Co-P.I.: Sarosh J. Motivala, Ph.D.

Cousins Center for Psychoneuroimmunology Seed Grant, $39,958

Recent publications

Motivala, S.J., Sarfatti, A.., Olmos, L., & Irwin, M. (under review). Inflammatory Markers and Sleep Disturbance in Major Depression. Psychosomatic Medicine.

Cole, J.C., Motivala, S.J., Dang, J. Lucko, A., Lang, N., Levin, M., Oxman, M.N., Irwin, M. (in press). Structural Validation of the Hamilton Depression Rating Scale. Journal of Psychopathology and Behavioral Assessment.

Irwin, M., Rinetti, G., Redwine, L., Motivala, S.J., Dang, J., Ehlers, C. (2004). Nocturnal Proinflammatory Cytokine-Associated Sleep Disturbances in Abstinent African American Alcoholics. Brain, Behavior & Immunity, 18(4) 349-360.

Motivala, S.J., Dang, J., Obradovic, T., Meadows, G.G., Butch, A.W. & Irwin, M. (2003). Leptin and cellular and innate immunity in abstinent alcoholics and controls. Alcoholism: Clinical and Experimental Research 27(11), 1819-1824.

Motivala SJ, Hurwitz BE, Llabre MM, Klimas NG, Fletcher MA, Antoni MH, LeBlanc WG, Schneiderman N. Psychological distress is associated with decreased memory helper T-cell and B-cell counts in pre-AIDS HIV seropositive men and women but only in those with low viral load . Psychosomatic Medicine 65(5): 627-635 , 2003.

Brownley, K.A., Milanovich, J.R., Motivala, S.J., Schneiderman, N., Fillion, L., Graves, J.A., Klimas, N., Fletcher, M.A. & Hurwitz, B.E. (2001). Autonomic and cardiovascular function in HIV spectrum disease: early indications of cardiac pathophysiology. Clinical Autonomic Research, 11(5):319-26.

Motivala, S.J., Hurwitz, B.E., LaGreca, A., Skyler, J.S. & Schneiderman, N. (1999). Aberrant parasympathetic and hemodynamic function distinguishes a sub-group of psychologically-distressed individuals with asymptomatic Type I Diabetes Mellitus. International Journal of Behavioral Medicine. 6(1), 78-94.


Sarosh J. Motivala
Assistant Research Psychologist
Cousins Center for Psychoneuroimmunology
UCLA Neuropsychiatric Institute
UCLA Medical Plaza 300, Room 3156
Los Angeles, CA 90095
phone: (310) 206-7492
fax: (310) 794-9247

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