Ana Rita Nunes

IMG_2348email: aritanunes(at)

Short Bio
I graduated in Biochemistry from Universidade de Lisboa (University of Lisbon). I obtained my PhD in Pharmacology from Universidade Nova de Lisboa (NOVA Medical School) in collaboration with Johns Hopkins University, where I spent 4.5 years as a visiting student. At the beginning of my graduate studies I focused my research on the chemotransduction mechanism that modulates the rat carotid body function and towards the end, I emerged into the central chemoreceptors in the brain. Shortly after, I enrolled in a short project to study the effects of chronic intermittent hypoxia in the rat hippocampus at NOVA Medical School. Recently I moved into behaviour and neurobiology using zebrafish as an animal model. After a short postdoc in the Weizmann Institute of Science in a collaborative project with Dr. Rui Oliveira, I am returning now to Portugal for a Postdoc in his laboratory at Gulbenkian Science Institute.

Research Interests
During my graduate studies I focused my research in thechemotransduction mechanism of the rat carotid body, a peripheral chemoreceptor whose main stimulus is hypoxia: I studied how changes in arterial O2 and CO2 could affect the cAMP signaling pathway in this organ.Recently I have switched from the carotid body, sometimes compared to a small brain due to its complexity, to the bigger one. I am now currently interested in understanding the neural circuitry underlying social cognitive modules using zebrafish as a vertebrate animal model and how gain or loss of function of specificneuronal types can affect social behavior.


Wircer E., Blechman J., Borodovsky N., Tsoory M., Nunes A.R. and Oliveira R.F., Levkowitz G., Homeodomain protein Otp affects developmental neuropeptide switching in oxytocin neurons associated with a long-term effect on social behavior. eLife 6: e22170, 2017.

Nunes A.R., Ruhl N., Winberg S., Oliveira R.F., Social Phenotypes in Zebrafish. In: Kalueff A.V. (eds.), The rights and wrongs of zebrafish: Behavioral phenotyping of zebrafish, Springer, 2017.

Pedroso, D.*, Nunes, A.R.*, Diogo, L., Monteiro. M.E., Brenner-Jan, C., Vieira, H. Hippocampal neurogenesis response: what can we expect from two different models of hypertension? Brain Research, pii: S0006-8993(16)30407-3. 2016, doi: 10.1016/j.brainres.2016.05.044  * Co-first author (these authors contributed equally to this work).

Diogo, L.N., Pereira, S. A., Nunes, A.R., Afonso, R. A., Santos, A.I., Monteiro, E.C., Efficacy of carvedilol in reversing hypertension induced by chronic intermittent hypoxia in rats. European Journal of Pharmacology, 765:58-67, 2015. DOI: 10.1016/j.ephar.2015.08.019

Holmes P. A., Nunes A.R., Cann J. M., Kumar, P. Ecto-5´-nucleotidases, adenosine and transmembrane adenylyl cyclase signalling regulate basal carotid body chemoafferent outflow and establish the sensitivity to hypercapnia. Advances in Experimental Medicine and Biology, 860:279-89, 2015. DOI:10.1007/978-3-319-18440-1_32

Nunes A.R., Holmes, A. P.S, Conde, S:V., Monteiro E.C., Gauda E. B., Revising cyclic-AMP signalling in the carotid body. Review. Frontiers in Physiology, 5, 406, Ecollection 2014.

Kesavana K., Ezell T., Bierman A., Nunes A.R., Northington F.J., Tankersley C, Gauda E. B., Breathing and temperature control disrupted by morphine and stabilized by clonidine in neonatal rats. Respiratory Physiology Neurobiology, 201: 93-100, 2014.

Nunes A.R., Monteiro E.C., Gauda E. B., Soluble adenylyl cyclase in the Locus Coeruleus. Respiratory Physiology Neurobiology, 201: 34-37, 2014.

Nunes A.R., Holmes, A. P.S., Sample V., Kumar P., Cann M.J., Monteiro E.C., Zhang J., Gauda E. B., Bicarbonate-sensitive soluble adenylyl and transmembrane adenylyl cyclase in peripheral chemoreceptors. Respiratory Physiology Neurobiology 188(2): 83-93, 2013.

Chavez-Valdez R.*, Mason A.*, Nunes A.R., Northington F. J., Tankersley C., Ahlawat R., Johnson S., Gauda, E.B., Effect of hyperoxic exposure during early development on neurotrophin expression in the carotid body and nucleus tractus solitarii. Journal of Applied Physiology, 112:1762-1772, 2012.

Nunes A.R., Chavez-Valdez R., Ezell T., Donnelly D. F., Glover J, Gauda E.B., Effect of development on [Ca2+]i response kinetics to ATP in petrosal ganglion neurons: a pharmacological approach using optical recording. Journal of Applied Physiology, 112:1393-1402, 2012.

Nunes A. R., Sample, V., Xiang Y. K., Monteiro E.C., Gauda E., Zhang J., Effect of oxygen on phosphodiesterases (PDE) 3 and 4 isoforms and PKA activity in the Superior Cervical Ganglia. Advances in Experimental Medicine and Biology, vol 758, 2012.

Nunes A.R, Batuca J.R. and Monteiro E.C., Different effects of hypoxia on cAMP accumulation induced by PDE4 inhibitors in rat carotid bodies, carotid arteries and superior cervical ganglia. British Journal of Pharmacology, 159 (2): 353-361, 2010.

Nunes A. R., Batuca J. R. and Monteiro E. C., Functional characterization of phosphodiesterases 4 in the rat carotid body: effect of oxygen concentration. Advances in Experimental Medicine and Biology, vol 648: 113-119, 2009.

Nunes A. R., Monteiro E. C., Johnson S. M., Gauda E. B., Bicarbonate-Regulated Soluble Adenylyl Cyclase (sAC) mRNA Expression and Activity in Peripheral Chemoreceptors. Advances in Experimental Medicine and Biology, 648: 235-241, 2009.