Noelle C. Anastasio

  • Associate Professor
    Assistant Graduate Program Director

    Phone: (409) 772-9656
    Fax: (409) 747-7050

  • BA, 2001, University of Texas at Austin, Austin, TX
    MS, 2003, University of Texas Medical Branch, Galveston, TX
    PhD, 2009, University of Texas Medical Branch, Galveston, TX
  • My research interests lie at the interface of pharmacology, neuroscience, and psychiatry. Prevention and treatment of neuropsychiatric disorders could be greatly advanced by a more comprehensive understanding of the biology of impulsivity. Our group is focused on deciphering the patterns of individual differences in behavioral disinhibition and decision-making seen with respect to the development and maintenance of chronic neuropsychiatric disorders. In particular, we focus on glutamatergic neurotransmission and disinhibition of cortical top-down output in different facets of impulsive-compulsive traits. There is evidence that glutamate neurotransmission through the ionotropic glutamate N-methyl-D-aspartate receptor plays a key role in the cognitive and/or behavioral dimensions of impulsivity and addictive behaviors, perhaps within the corticostriatal circuit, a network integral to decision-making and goal-directed behavior. An additional focus of the laboratory is to determine that neuronal serotonin and glutamate systems mechanistically converge to govern impulsivity and that rebalancing these systems may ultimately support behavioral recovery in disorders marked by impulsivity concomitant with an imbalance in the reward system and reactivity to reward conditioned cues (e.g., psychostimulant addiction, binge-eating disorder, obesity). 

    We employ a multi-disciplinary approach (e.g., biochemistry, gene-mediated viral delivery, behavioral models, cellular models) to elucidate the neurobiological substrates (e.g., receptor trafficking, protein:protein interactions, epigenetic modifications) within the corticostriatal circuit that drive the vulnerable vs. resistant phenotypes underlying dysregulated drug- and feeding-related behaviors as assessed in the preclinical environment.

    1. Anastasio NC, Stutz SJ, Fink LHL, Swinford-Jackson SE, Sears RM, DiLeone RJ, Rice KC, Moeller FG, and Cunningham KA (2015) Serotonin (5-HT) 5-HT2A receptor (5-HT2AR):5-HT2CR imbalance in medial prefrontal cortex associates with motor impulsivity. ACS Chemical Neuroscience 6(7): 1248-1258. 
    2. Hamilton KR, Littlefield AK, Anastasio NC, Cunningham KA, Fink LH, Wang V, Mathias C, Land SD, Schutz C, Swann A, Lejeuz C, Clark L, Moeller FG, and Potenza MN (2015) Rapid-response impulsivity: Definitions, measurement issues and clinical implications. Personality Disorders: Theory, Research, and Treatment 6(2):168-181. 
    3. Anastasio NC, Liu S, Maili L, Hamon SC, Lane SD, Fox RG, Swinford SE, Goldman D, Nielsen DA, Cunningham KA and Moeller FG (2014) Variation within the serotonin (5-HT) 5-HT2C receptor system aligns with vulnerability to cocaine cue reactivity. Translational Psychiatry 4:e369. PMCID: PMC3966037 
    4. Anastasio NC, Stutz SJ, Fox RG, Sears RM, Emeson RB, DiLeone RJ, O’Neil RT, Fink LH, Li D, Green TA, Moeller FG and Cunningham KA (2014) Functional status of the serotonin 5-HT2C receptor (5-HT2CR) Neuropsychopharmacology 39(2):370-382. PMCID: PMC3970795 
    5. Cunningham KA and Anastasio NC (2014) Serotonin at the nexus of impulsivity and cue reactivity in cocaine addiction. Neuropharmacology 76 Pt B:460-478. PMCID:PMC4090081 
    6. Anastasio NC, Gilbertson SR, Bubar MJ, Seitz PK, Agarkov A, Jeng Y, Bremer NM, Smith TD, Stutz SJ, Fox RG, Charendoff MN, Craft JW, Watson CS, Briggs JM and Cunningham KA (2013) Peptide inhibitors disrupt the serotonin 5-HT2C receptor interaction with phosphatase and tensin homologue to allosterically modulate cellular signaling and behavior. Journal of Neuroscience 33(4):1615-30. PMCID: PMC3711763 
    7. Anastasio NC, Stoffel EC, Fox RG, Bubar MJ, Rice KC, Moeller FG and Cunningham KA (2011) The serotonin (5-HT) 5-HT2A receptor: Association with inherent and cocaine-evoked behavioral disinhibition in rats. Behavioral Pharmacology 22(3):248-61. PMCID: PMC3124821 
    8. Anastasio NC, Lanfranco MF, Bubar MJ, Seitz PK, Stutz SJ, McGinnis AG, Watson CS and Cunningham KA (2010) Serotonin (5-HT) 2C receptor (5-HT2CR) protein expression is enriched in synaptosomal and postsynaptic compartments of rat cortex.  Journal of Neurochemistry 113(6): 1504-1515. PMCID: PMC2917206 
    9. Anastasio NC, Xia Y, O’Connor ZR and Johnson KM (2009) Differential role of NR2A and NR2B NMDA receptors in mediating phencyclidine-induced perinatal neuronal apoptosis and behavioral deficits. Neuroscience 163(4):1181-91. PMCID: PMC2760688 
    10. Anastasio NC and Johnson KM (2008b) Atypical antischizophrenic drugs prevent changes in cortical N-methyl-D-Aspartate receptors and behavior following sub-chronic phencyclidine administration in developing rats.  Pharmacology, Biochemistry and Behavior 90(4):569-77. PMCID: PMC2604119 
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