Flavia Carreno
Selected Publications

Flavia Carreño

Ph.D., Cellular and Tissue Biology
University of São Paulo
São Paulo, SP, Brazil

Lab Association:Alan Frazer, Ph.D.


Research Interests

• Vagal nerve stimulation • antidepressants
• treatment resistant depression • neurotrophins
• TrkB receptor

Research Activities

My research, in Dr. Alan Frazer’s lab, focuses primarily on (1) identifying preclinical models for treatment resistant depression and (2) the mechanism of action of conventional antidepressants and alternative therapies for treatment resistant depression, such as the fast acting antidepressant ketamine and vagal nerve stimulation (VNS). VNS has been approved by the FDA for treatment-resistant depression. Many antidepressants increase expression of brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF) in brain or activate, via phosphorylation, its receptor, TrkB. Previously we found administration of either acute or chronic VNS, in freely moving rats, to increase phosphorylation of TrkB in brain on three tyrosine residues (Y705, Y816 and Y515) whereas conventional antidepressants only caused phosphorylation on two residues (Y705 and Y816). In view of this, we are comparing the effects of VNS to those produced by conventional antidepressants as well as to the fast-acting antidepressant ketamine, on downstream signaling molecules linked to TrkB phosphorylation, especially at the Y515 site. The importance of this unique phosphorylation site on TrkB linked to downstream signaling molecules could lead to the identification of novel targets for treatment-resistant depression.


Another aspect of my research, in collaboration with Dr. Daniel Lodge, and Stephanie Perez (Ph.D. Candidate) focuses on VNS as a putative novel approach for the treatment of schizophrenia. In these studies we use a rodent model of schizophrenia, along with electrophysiology, molecular biology and behavior approaches. To date, we have made the original observation that treatment of rats that model schizophrenia with VNS returns the hyperdopaminergic activity of the ventral tegmental area in these animals to normal values.


• Accomplishments, Awards and Honors •

Chair's Award for Excellence - Research - Dec 2014

William Thomas Booth Memorial Travel Award - UTHSCSA - Sept 2014

Organizing committee for R25 students Journal Club - Department of Pharmacology, UTHSCSA, TX - Dec 2011-Present

Admissions interview committee for Texas College of Osteopathic Medicine (TCOM) - University of North Texas Health Science Center at Fort Worth - July 2010 – Feb. 7th, 2011

Thesis Committee - GSBS Integrative Physiology, Master of Science - UNTHSC at Fort Worth - 02/06/2010

Safety Coordinator for Department of Integrative Physiology - University of North Texas Health Science Center at Fort Worth - July 1st, 2009 – Feb. 7th, 2011

Laboratory Mentor (Zekedra McMorris) - McNair Program - UNTHSC at Fort Worth - Summer/2010

Laboratory Mentor (Adeola Mustapha) - Post-Baccalaureate Research Education Program and Retention Enhancement (PREPARE) - UNTHSC at Fort Worth - 2010

Laboratory Mentor (Molsaurol Spencer) - Post-Baccalaureate Research Education Program and Retention Enhancement (PREPARE) - UNTHSC at Fort Worth - 2010

Mentor - Fort Worth Regional Science and Engineering Fair - 2010-2011

Mentor - Fort Worth Regional Science and Engineering Fair - 2009-2010

• Appointments, Boards, Committees and Memberships •

T-MOB (Trainee Meetings Outside the Box) Organizing Committee - The mission of TMOB is to provide a structured setting for trainees to discuss and develop scientific communication and career development skills
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Reviewer for Journals - Journal of Chemical Neuroanatomy - Feb. 2012-Present

Member of American Physiological Society (APS) - 2009-Present

Member of the Society for Neuroscience (SfN) - 2005-Present

• Lectures and Presentations •

Current Approaches and Technologies to Study Antidepressant Drugs in the Laboratory - UTHSCSA Voelcker Biosciences Teacher Academy 5th Annual Spring Conference - San Antonio, TX - Feb 2015

How we study antidepressant drugs in the laboratory - UTHSCSA Health Professions Fair & Science Expo - Nov 2013

Carreño, FR. and Frazer, A. - Vagal nerve stimulation activates brain-derived neurotrophic factor receptor TrkB and distinct downstream pathways in rat brain - UTHSCSA 19th Annual Department of Pharmacology Graduate Student Symposium - San Antonio, TX - 2012