Department of Anesthesiology and Critical Care

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Rita J. Valentino, Ph.D.

Research Professor of Anesthesiology and Critical Care
Department: Anesthesiology and Critical Care

Contact information
Children's Hospital of Philadelphia
3615 Civic Center Blvd.
Abramson Bldg., 402C
Philadelphia, PA 19104
Office: 215-590-0650
Fax: 215-590-3364
Lab: 215-590-0654
Graduate Group Affiliations
B.S. (Highest Distinction (Pharmacy) )
University of Rhode Island , 1975.
Ph.D. (Pharmacology)
University of Michigan , 1980.
Post-Graduate Training
Postdoctoral Fellow (Neurobiology), University of North Carolina , 1980-1981.
Postdoctoral Fellow (Neurobiology), The Salk Institute , 1981-1983.
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Description of Research Expertise

Mechanisms of stress-induced plasticity; MechanismS of action of pscyhotherapeutic drugs; Central regulation of visceral functions; Functions of monoamine systems.

electrophysiology, functional neuroanatomy, behavior, pharmacology

I am investigating how stress leads to psychiatric and medical disorders. Specifically, my research centers on the stress-related neuropeptide, corticotropin-releasing factor (CRF). CRF targets and alters the activity of brain monoamine systems that have been implicated in depression and anxiety. We are studying how exposure to repeated stress or to a single severe stress produces long-term changes in the response of these neuronal systems to subsequent stressors. These changes may underlie some of the symptoms of a variety of stress-related medical and behavioral disorders, including attention disorders, anxiety, depression, substance abuse and functional bowel disorders.

An important aspect of my work involves treatment intervention, or determining how to manipulate the effects of CRF using drugs to prevent the long-term impact of severe or repeated stress.

We are also mapping out and studying neuronal circuits that link the brain and gastrointestinal tract. Using neuroanatomical and electrophysiological approaches we identified a neural circuit that is positioned to coregulate pelvic (bladder and colon) functions with cortical activity and thereby may underlie the comorbidity of colonic and psychiatric disorders. The pharmacological manipulation of components of this circuit may prove useful in treating incontinence as well as pelvic visceral disorders that are often accompanied by anxiety and depression.

Selected Publications

Urban, KR and Valentino, RJ: Age- and Sex-dependent impact of repeated social stress on intrinsic and synaptic excitability of the rat prefrontal cortex. Cerebral Cortex Dec 2016.

Guajardo, H., Snyder, K. and Valentino, RJ: Sex differences in m-opioid receptor regulation of the rat locus coeruleus and their cognitive consequences. Neuropsychopharmacology Dec 2016.

Grafe, LA, Cornfield, A, Luz, S., Valentino, RJ and Bhatnagar, S.: Orexins mediate sex differences in the stress response and in cognitive flexiblity. Biological Psychiatry Oct 2016.

Zitnik Gerard A, Curtis Andrè L, Wood Susan K, Arner Jay, Valentino Rita J: Adolescent Social Stress Produces an Enduring Activation of the Rat Locus Coeruleus and Alters its Coherence with the Prefrontal Cortex. Neuropsychopharmacology 41(5): 1376-85, Apr 2016.

Smith Ariana L, Hantsoo Liisa, Malykhina Anna P, File Daniel W, Valentino Rita, Wein Alan J, Sammel Mary D, Epperson C Neill: Basal and stress-activated hypothalamic pituitary adrenal axis function in postmenopausal women with overactive bladder. International urogynecology journal 27(9): 1383-1391, 2016.

Partridge, J.G., Forcelli, P.A., Luo, R., Cashdan, J.M., Schulkin, J., Valentino, R.J. and Vicini, S.: Stress increases GABAergic neurotransmission in CRF neurons of the central amygdala and bed nucleus stria terminalis. Neuropharmacology 107: 239-250, 2016.

Reyes Beverly A S, Zitnik Gerard, Foster Celia, Van Bockstaele Elisabeth J, Valentino Rita J: Social Stress Engages Neurochemically-Distinct Afferents to the Rat Locus Coeruleus Depending on Coping Strategy. eNeuro 2(6), Nov-Dec 2015.

Weiss Dana A, Butler Stephan J, Fesi Joanna, Long Christopher J, Valentino Rita J, Canning Douglas A, Zderic Stephen A: Putting the past behind us: Social stress-induced urinary retention can be overcome. Journal of pediatric urology 11(4): 188-94, Aug 2015.

Snyder, K.P., Hill-Smith, T., Lucki, I. and Valentino, R.J>: Corticotropin-releasing factor in the rat dorsal raphe nucleus promotes different forms of behavioral flexibility depending on social stress history. Neuropsychopharmacology 40: 2517-2525, April 2015.

Snyder K, Barry M, Plona Z, Ho A, Zhang XY, Valentino RJ.: The impact of social stress during adolescence or adulthood and coping strategy on cognitive function of female rats. Behav. Br. Res. 286: 175-183, March 2015.

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Last updated: 02/07/2017
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