The ZRT Laboratory Blog

The ZRT Blog is an extensive resource for patients and health care providers searching for health and hormone testing information. Here, you can read about ZRT’s cutting edge research, advances in testing, wellness advice, and health industry highlights.



Dr. Kate Placzek

Kate Placzek, PhD, is a Senior Research Scientist at ZRT Laboratory.
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Recent Posts

The Impact of Hormones on Serotonin in Depression

Posted by Dr. Kate Placzek on Friday, 09 February

Serotonin Blog Images-609310-edited.jpgSerotonin, or rather its deficiency, frequently steals the spotlight in conversations regarding depression.  Initially discovered as a component of serum in 1948 to regulate vasoconstriction (serotonin = serum + tone), the role of serotonin in depressive disorders wasn't implied until a few years later. Since then, much effort has been dedicated by scientists and clinicians alike to understand the wondrous complexity of the seemingly inscrutable code that is serotonin neurotransmission. In fact, some of the major breakthroughs in psychopharmacology happened with serotonin in mind – the discovery of selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs) prominently expanded the therapeutic toolbox for mental health practitioners.      

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Mood and Menopause – Going Through "The Change"

Posted by Dr. Kate Placzek on Friday, 01 December

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Not quite menopause. Throwing blankets off at night, keeping awake. Fatigue and irritation punctuated throughout the day by heat dissipating from every pore, clouding thoughts, reinforcing forgetfulness. Hair falling out so stubbornly fast. Clothes choosing when to fit. Flooding periods coming sporadically, unexpectedly. They call it “the change of life” – but I feel like a different person altogether. What is happening?         

In perimenopause, the physiological landscape is subject to tremendous change with estradiol and progesterone at the heart of the transition. Progesterone levels fall quickly – no ovulation – no corpus luteum – no progesterone. Estradiol, on the other hand, does not give up so easily. Estradiol levels continue to rise and fall – reliable, steady, wave-like – a biological rollercoaster – approaching the halting rhythms of reproductive senescence. In the context of very low progesterone, these dramatic peaks and troughs in estradiol levels, give rise to systemic consequences and unrelenting symptoms of the menopausal transition. 

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Clinical Pearls - Getting the Most Out of Your Neurotransmitter Test

Posted by Dr. Kate Placzek on Friday, 29 September

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Learning how to use a new test can be overwhelming, especially when it goes back to neurology which you might not have thought of since medical school.

To assist health care providers in approaching neurotransmitter testing as a functional assessment, ZRT has outlined a series of key concepts below.

As with any functional test that measures physiological function, the challenge lies in the interpretation of subclinical levels of measured parameters. However, it is within those subclinical levels that the neurotransmitter test becomes a powerful tool to identify what is contributing to a specific patient's health issues and how to map toward a successful outcome based on an individual treatment plan.

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Estrogen: The Link Between Microbiome, Menopause & Metabolic Health

Posted by Dr. Kate Placzek on Saturday, 23 September

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The diversity of the microbiome has profound implications for metabolic health. The micro-organisms that we host in our gastrointestinal tract maintain our gut integrity, break down complex carbohydrates to improve energy extraction from food, produce vitamins and minerals, aid in digestion and absorption, ferment dietary fibers and protect us against pathogens. Maintaining a delicate balance in the diversity of the host-microbiome relationship is crucial for disease prevention and healthy aging. 

Studies on the microbiome are emerging as a new and exciting frontier of science. However, how the microbiome interacts with the endocrine system to modulate metabolic health is still one of the less explored avenues in microbiome research. This blog aims to shed light on the intertwined roles of gut microbiota and estrogen on metabolic health for women as they transition into menopause.

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