claudia Grillo

Claudia A. Grillo, Ph.D.    
Research Assistant Professor
Postdoctoral Training: The Rockefeller
Postdoctoral Training: The Rockefeller, University, New York, NY
Ph.D. training: University of Buenos Aires, Argentina
BS/BA training: University of Buenos Aires, Argentina
Contact Information:
Phone: 803-216-3508
FAX: 803-216-3538
Web Page:

Research Focus:

Obesity is a debilitating public health problem, and a common factor that underlie many of the frequent illnesses seen in medical practice. According to the World Health Organization 700 million adults are clinically obese. Although a number of factors are likely involved, increased food intake is one of the major contributors to obesity. A variety of hormones and neurotransmitters play different roles in appetite regulation, including the adipocyte-derived hormone leptin. Leptin is secreted proportionally to fat mass, and regulates a broad spectrum of homeostatic functions. While the role of hypothalamic leptin receptors in appetite regulation, body weight and energy expenditure are well established, recent studies suggest that extra-hypothalamic leptin receptors also regulate food intake. Integrating in vivo microdialysis with in vivo optogenetics approaches I am studying the role of leptin receptors located in the raphe nuclei, the main source of serotonin, and their interaction with the serotonergic system upon the regulation of eating behavior. My major interest is to identify novel circuits that regulates food intake, which will allow us to identify new targets for the development of therapeutic strategies to treat obesity.

Raphe serotonergic neurons

Raphe serotonergic neurons (brown cytoplasmic labeling) respond to leptin treatment by increasing the phosphorylation of STAT3 (pSTAT3; black nuclear labeling). Leptin activates approximately 75% of serotonergic neurons.>

Recent Publications

PubMed Link:

  • Grillo CA, Piroli GG, Lawrence RC, Wrighten SA, Green AJ, Sakai RR, Wilson SP, Kelly SJ, Wilson MA, Mott DD, Reagan LP: Hippocampal insulin resistance impairs spatial learning and synaptic plasticity. Diabetes 64:3927:3936 (2015).
  • Wilson MA, Grillo CA, Fadel JR, Reagan LP:  Stress as a one-armed bandit: Differential effects of stress paradigms on the morphology, neurochemistry and behavior in the rodent amygdala. Neurobiology of Stress 1:195-208 (2015).
  • Grillo CA, Risher M, Macht VA, Bumgardner AL, Hang A, Gabriel C, Mocaër E, Piroli GG, Fadel JR, Reagan LP: Repeated restraint stress-induced atrophy of glutamatergic pyramidal neurons and decreases in glutamatergic efflux in the rat amygdala are prevented by the antidepressant agomelatine.Neuroscience 284:430-443 (2015).
  • Grillo CA, Piroli GG, Junor L, Wilson SP, Mott DD, Wilson MA, Reagan LP: Obesity/hyperleptinemic phenotype impairs structural and functional plasticity in the rat hippocampus. Physiol Behav. 30; 105(1):138-44 (2011).
  • Grillo CA Piroli GG, Hendry RM, Reagan LP: Insulin-stimulated translocation of GLUT4 to the plasma membrane in rat hippocampus is PI3-kinase dependent. Brain Res. 3;1296:35-45 (2009).