Professor and Chair
Office: VBR 205F
Phone: (509) 335-6497
Some of the most significant medical problems that affect modern
society, such as obesity, drug addiction (including alcohol and
nicotine), dementia, and depression, are diseases in which there are
significant behavioral components. Because of the behavioral nature of
these afflictions, neuroscience has important contributions to make in
the solutions to these conditions.
Developing effective therapeutic strategies requires a thorough
understanding of the mechanisms that regulate and, in the case of
disease, dysregulate the underlying physiological processes that
influence these behaviors. The goals of the research in my laboratory
are to develop these physiological insights, from the cellular and
molecular level to the integrated behavior of the whole animal. We have
two projects that are the current focus of the laboratory. The first
project addresses regulation of food intake, specifically the mechanisms
by which nutrients and hormones activate afferent gastrointestinal
neurons that mediate meal termination. The second project examines the
relationship between alcohol consumption and sleep disturbances. Our
primary experimental model is the rat. In these studies we perform whole
animal experiments involving behavioral end-points such as food intake,
alcohol consumption, and EEG recordings of sleep, anatomical
investigations utilizing immunohistochemistry and/or in situ
hybridization, biochemical changes are followed by use of RIA, ELISA, or
rt-PCR techniques, and cellular studies on primary cultures of important
target tissues are performed by patch-clamp electrophysiology and
single-cell calcium measurements.
Kubota, T., A. De, R.A. Brown, S.M. Simasko
, and J.M.
Krueger (2002) Diurnal effects of acute and chronic administration of
ethanol on sleep in rats. Alcoholism: Clin. Exp. Res. 26: 1153-1161.
De, A., L. Churchill, F. Obal Jr., S.M. Simasko
J.M. Krueger (2002) GHRH and IL1b increase cytoplasmic Ca2+ levels in
cultured hypothalamic GABAergic neurons. Brain Res. 949: 209-212.
Simasko, S.M., J. Wiens, A. Karpiel, M. Covasa, and R.C. Ritter (2002)
Cholecystokinin increases cytosolic calcium in cultured vagal afferent
neurons. Am. J. Physiol. Regul., Integr., Comp. Physiol. 283: R1303
Simasko S.M., and R.C. Ritter (2003) Cholecystokinin activates both A-
and C-type vagal afferent neurons. Am J Physiol Gastrointest Liver
De A., J.M. Krueger, S.M. Simasko
(2003) Tumor necrosis
factor alpha increases cytosolic calcium responses to AMPA and KCl in
primary cultures of rat hippocampal neurons. Brain Res. 981(1-2):133-42.
Peters, J.H. R.C. Ritter, and S.M. Simasko
Leptin and CCK selectively activate vagal afferent neurons innervating
the stomach and duodenum. Am. J. Physiol. (Regul. Integr. Comp.
Physiol.). 290: R1544-R1549. (Comment in: Am J Physiol Regul Integr Comp
Physiol 2006, 290:R1542-3).
Peters, J.H., S.M. Simasko
, and R.C. Ritter. (2007)
Leptin analog antagonizes leptin effects on food intake and body weight
but mimics leptin-induced vagal afferent activation. Endocrinology 148:
and S. Mukherjee. (2009) Novel analysis
of sleep patterns in rats separates periods of vigilance cycling from
long-duration wake events. Behav. Brain Res. 196: 228-236.
Mukherjee, S. and S.M. Simasko
. (2009) Chronic alcohol
treatment in rats alters sleep by fragmenting periods of vigilance
cycling in the light period with extended wakenings. Behav. Brain Res.
Zhao, H., and S.M. Simasko
. (2010) Role of transient
receptor potential channels in cholecystokinin-induced activation of
cultured vagal afferent neurons. Endocrinology 151: 5237-5246.
Zhao, H., and D.C. Kinch, and S.M. Simasko
Pharmacological investigation of the cellular transduction pathways used
by cholecystokinin to activate nodose neurons. Autonomic Neuroscience
Wiater M.F., S. Mukherjee., A.J. Li, T.T. Dinh, E.M. Rooney,
, and S Ritter. (2011) Circadian integration of
sleep/wake and feeding requires NPY-receptor expressing neurons in the
mediobasal hypothalamus. Am. J. Physiol. (Regul. Integr. Comp. Physiol.)
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