People - Maricedes



Name: Maricedes Acosta-Martínez, PhD
Position: Postoctoral fellow
Bachellors degree in Biology from University of Puerto Rico,
Rio Piedras campus (1991)
Masters in Science, Albert Einstein College of Medicine,
Bronx, NY (1998)
Doctor of Philosophy from Albert Einstein College of Medicine,
Bronx, NY (2002)
Discipline: Neuroscience


Current Project:
The focus of my research is to obtain a better understanding of the mechanisms that link energy homeostasis with fertility.  In most mammals, the function of the neuroendocrine system is to optimize reproductive success in the face of fluctuations in energy balance; in that reproduction is inhibited during negative energy balance, and activated in a positive energy balance state. Several key metabolic signals, such as hormones and hypothalamic neuropeptides that are involved in energy intake, storage, and utilization, influence reproductive processes.  A major objective of my studies is to determine how metabolic and hormonal cues exert their effects on the major effectors of the reproductive axis: gonadotropin-releasing hormone (GnRH) neurons.
The phosphatidylinositol-3-kinase (PI3K) signaling cascade is a common pathway activated by insulin, IGF-1 and leptin.  My experiments are designed to test the hypothesis that PI3K serves as a major integrator of peripheral metabolic signals.  Through the use of physiological and molecular biology approaches I investigate whether PI3K activation can directly and/or indirectly affect the function of GnRH neurons and hence the hypothalamic-pituitary-gonadal (HPG) axis.   
The results of my studies will have important implications for the understanding and treatment of metabolic disorders such as obesity and type 2 diabetes and how they impact the reproductive axis.  For example, in certain clinical eating disorders, the activity of GnRH neurons is depressed, thereby reducing the gonadotropic drive to the ovaries.  Conversely, disorders such as polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS) are characterized by a hypermetabolic state that is in turn associated with GnRH and gonadotropin excess. 










Dr. Jon E. Levine
Department of Neurobiology and Physiology -  Institute for Neuroscience – Center for Reproductive Science
Northwestern University
2205 Tech Drive, Evanston, IL 60208. Office Phone: 847-491-7180. Lab Phone 847-491-7949

E-Mail: jlevine@northwestern.edu

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