Bookmark and Share

Ana Pocivavsek Ph.D.

Academic Title: Assistant Professor
Primary Appointment: Psychiatry
Location: MPRC, 3-13A
Phone: (410) 402-7751
Fax: (410) 747-2434
Lab: (410) 402-6108

Personal History:

  • B.S. - Psychology, Duke University 2003
  • Ph.D. - Neuroscience, Georgetown University 2009

Research Interests:

My research combines animal behavior and molecular biology to investigate the biological basis of psychiatric disorders. My projects focus on the neurobiology of kynurenic acid, a neuroinhibitory kynureine pathway metabolite that targets both NMDA and α7 nicotinic acetylcholine receptors. In particular, my work has investigated the role of kynurenic acid in cognitive processes and the contribution of the the kynurenine pathway to the cognitive deficits seen in schizophrenia. Our findings have uncovered functionally significant bi-directional links between kynurenic acid, the neurotransmitter glutamate, and hippocampal learning and memory in rats.

Lab Techniques and Equipment:

  • Biochemistry
  • Molecular biology
  • Animal behavior


Chiappelli, J., Pocivavsek, A., Nugent, K.L., Notarangelo, F.M., Kochunov, P., Rowland, L.M., Schwarcz, R., Hong, L.E. Stress induced kynurenic acid as a potential biomarker for schizophrenia patients with distress intolerance. 2014. JAMA Psychiatry. in press.

Pocivavsek, A., Thomas, M.A.R., Elmer, G.I., Bruno, J.P., Schwarcz, R. Continuous kynurenine administration during the prenatal period, but not during adolescence, causes learning and memory deficits in adult rats. 2014. Psychopharmacology. in press.

Wu, H.Q., Okuyama, M., Kajii, Y., Pocivavsek, A., Bruno, J.P., Schwarcz, R. Targeting kynurenine aminotransferases II in psychiatric diseases: promising effects of an orally active enzyme inhibitor. 2013. Schizophr Bull. in press.

Alexander, K.S., Pocivavsek, A., Wu, H.Q., Pershing, M.L., Schwarcz, R., Bruno, J.P. Early developmental elevations of brain kynurenic acid impair cognitive flexibility in adults: reversal with galantamine. 2013 May. Neuroscience. 238: 19-28.

Pocivavsek, A., Wu, H.Q., Elmer, G.I., Bruno, J.P., Schwarcz, R. Pre- and postnatal exposure to kynurenine causes cognitive deficits in adulthood. 2012 May. Eur J Neurosc., 35 (10): 1605-12.

Pocivavsek, A., Wu, H.Q., Potter, M.C., Elmer, G.I., Pellicciari, R., Schwarcz, R. Fluctuations in endogenous kynurenic acid control hippocampal glutamate and memory. 2011 Oct. Neuropsychopharmacology, 36 (11): 2357-67.

Loane, D.J., Washington, P.M., Vardanian, L., Pocivavsek, A., Hoe, H.S., Duff, K.E., Cernak, I., Rebeck, G.W., Faden, A.I., Burns, M.P. Modulation of ABCA1 by an LXR agonist reduces beta-amyloid levels and improves outcome after traumatic brain injury. 2011 Feb. J Neurotrauma, 28(2): 225-36.

Pocivavsek, A., Rebeck, G.W. Inhibition of c-Jun N-terminal kinase increases apoE expression in vitro and in vivo. 2009 Sept. Biochem Biophys Res Commun, 387(3): 516-20.

Pocivavsek, A., Mikhailenko, I., Strickland, D.K., Rebeck, G.W. Microglial low-density lipoprotein receptor-related protein 1 modulates c-Jun N-terminal kinase activation. 2009 Sept. J Neuroimmunol, 214(1-2): 25-32.

Liu, Y., Pocivavsek, A., Papadopoulos, V. Dehydroepiandrosterone formation is independent of cytochrome P450 17α-hydroxylase/17,20 lyase activity in the mouse brain. 2009 July. J Steroid Biochem Mol Biol, 115(3-5): 86-90.

Loane, D.J., Pocivavsek, A., Moussa, C. E-H., Thompson, R., Matsuoka, Y., Faden, A.I., Rebeck, G. W., Burns, M. P. Targeting APP secretases reduces tissue damage and behavioral deficits following traumatic brain injury. 2009 April. Nat Med,15(4): 377-9.

Pocivavsek, A., Burns, M. P., Rebeck, G. W. Low-Density lipoprotein receptors regulate microglial inflammation through c-Jun N-terminal kinase. 2009 March. Glia, 57(4) 444-53.

Hoe, H.S., Pocivavsek, A., Chakraborty, G., Harris, D.C., Rebeck, G.W. Effects of ApoE on neuronal signaling and APP processing in rodent brain. 2006 Sept. Brain Res, 1112(1), 70-9.

Pocivavsek, A., Icenogle, L., Levin, E.D. Ventral hippocampal alpha7 and alpha4beta2 nicotinic receptor blockade and clozapine effects on memory in female rats. 2006 Nov. Psychopharmacology, 188(4), 597-604.

Hoe, H.S., Pocivavsek, A., Chakraborty, G., Fu, Z., Vicini, S., Ehlers, M. D., Rebeck, G.W. Apolipoprotein E receptor 2 interactions with the N-methyl-D-aspartate receptor. 2006 Feb. J Biol Chem, 281(6), 3425-31.

Addy, N., Pocivavsek, A., Levin, E.D. Reversal of clozapine effects on working memory in rats with fimbria-fornix lesions. 2005 June. Neuropsychopharmacology 30(6), 1121-7.