Rita J. Valentino

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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.
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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.

Description of Itmat Expertise

Dr. Valentino conducts research related to how stress leads to psychiatric or medical disorders, specifically how neurohormonal and/or neurochemical substrates of the stress response (i.e., corticotropin-releasing factor, glucocorticoids) interact with classical neurotransmitter systems to regulate the response to stress and how this plays a role in stress-related diseases.

Selected Publications

Liu, W., Griffin, G., Clarke, T., Parente, M.K., Valentino, R.J., Wolfe, J.H. and Fraser, N.W.: Bilateral single-site intracerebral injecitons of a nonpathogenic herpes simplex virus-1 vector decrases anxiogenic behavior in MPSVII mice. Molecular Therapy 2: 14059, 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 2015.

Wood Susan K, Wood Christopher S, Lombard Calliandra M, Lee Catherine S, Zhang Xiao-Yan, Finnell Julie E, Valentino Rita J: Inflammatory Factors Mediate Vulnerability to a Social Stress-Induced Depressive-like Phenotype in Passive Coping Rats. Biological psychiatry Nov 2014.

Chaijale, N.N., Snyder, K., Arner, J., Curtis, A.L. and Valentino, R.J.: Repeated social stress increases reward salience and impairs encoding of prediction by rat locus coeruleus neurons. Neuropsychopharmacology August 2014.

Snyder, K.P., Barry, M. and Valentino, R.J.: Cognitive impact of social stress and coping strategy throughout development. Psychopharmacology June 2014.

Toth M, Gresack JE, Bangasser DA, Plona Z, Valentino RJ, Flandreau EI, Mansuy IM, Merlo-Pich E, Geyer MA, Risbrough VB. : Forebrain-Specific CRF Overproduction During Development is Sufficient to Induce Enduring Anxiety and Startle Abnormalities in Adult Mice. Neuropsychopharmacology 39: 1409-1419, December 2013.

Wood Susan K, McFadden Kile, Griffin Tagan, Wolfe John H, Zderic Stephen A, Valentino Rita J: A Corticotropin-releasing Factor Receptor Antagonist Improves Urodynamic Dysfunction Produced by Social Stress or Partial Bladder Outlet Obstruction in Rats. American Journal of Physiology. Regulatory, Integrative and Comparative Physiology Apr 2013.

Wood Susan K, Zhang Xiao-Yan, Reyes Beverly A S, Lee Catherine S, Van Bockstaele Elisabeth J, Valentino Rita J: Cellular Adaptations of Dorsal Raphe Serotonin Neurons Associated with the Development of Active Coping in Response to Social Stress. Biological Psychiatry 73: 1087-1094, Feb 2013.

Bangasser DA, Lee CS, Cook PA, Gee JC, Bhatnagar S, Valentino RJ.: Manganese-enhanced magnetic resonance imaging (MEMRI) reveals brain circuitry involved in responding to an acute novel stress in rats with a history of repeated social stress. Physiology and Behavior 122: 228-236, 2013.

Chaijale NN, Curtis AL, Wood SK, Zhang XY, Bhatnagar S, Reyes BA, Van Bockstaele EJ, Valentino RJ.: Social stress engages opioid regulation of locus coeruleus norepinephrine neurons and induces a state of cellular and physical opiate dependence. Neuropsychopharmacology 38: 1833-1843, 2013.

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Last updated: 03/16/2015
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