Contact

Department

Cellular and Integrative Physiology

Carie R. Boychuk, Ph.D

Assistant Professor

Education

B.S. University of Florida, 2004
Ph.D., University of Florida, 2009

Research

First described by Claude Bernard but later coined by Walter Cannon, homeostasis refers to the process by which the body maintains a constant internal environment. In the orchestration of homeostasis, brain networks involved in autonomic and neuroendocrine function coordinate multiple peripheral physiological systems through complex network processing. Our laboratory is particularly interested in how the brain monitors, processes, and integrates energy homeostatic signals under normal physiology and pathological disease states.

To date, much of the work probing mechanisms and targets for central effects of energy homeostasis focuses on the hypothalamus and its long understood importance in feeding and metabolism. However, there is abundant evidence implicating another region, the brainstem’s dorsal vagal complex, as a critical center for sensing and regulating glucose metabolism. This region receives both peripheral afferent and upstream central signaling. This region then integrates all information and determines ultimate efferent outflow to various viscera, including the pancreas, liver, intestine and stomach, through the vagus nerve. As the first central relay for peripheral afferents and the final central modulatory point for efferent activity, our laboratory focuses on the vagal complex using a multi-disciplinary toolbox, including electrophysiology, molecular biology, and in vivo physiological analyses.  We are currently pursing two distinct thematic programs involving the dorsal vagal complex’s role in energy homeostasis.

1) How progesterone- derivatives modify metabolic homeostatic signaling through the dorsal vagal complex.

2) The integration of energy homeostatic signaling and cardiovascular autonomic networks.

Lab Members

Postdoctoral Fellow
Graduate Research Assistant
Stephanie Fedorchak
Graduate Research Assistant
Monica Lopez
Research Assistant

Publications

Espinoza L, Boychuk CR. Diabetes, and its treatment, as an effector of autonomic nervous system circuits and its functions. Curr Opin Pharmacol. 2020 Jul 24;54:18-26. doi: 10.1016/j.coph.2020.06.006. Online ahead of print. PMID: 32721846.

Littlejohn EL, Fedorchak, S, Boychuk CR. Sex-dependent plasticity of brainstem autonomic circuits. American Journal of Physiology-Regulatory, Integrative and Comparative Physiology. 2020 Jul 1;319(1):R60-R68. doi: 10.1152/ajpregu.00357.2019. Epub 2020 Jun 3.

Littlejohn EL, Espinoza L, Lopez MM, Smith BN, Boychuk CR. GABAA receptor currents in the dorsal motor nucleus of the vagus in females: influence of ovarian cycle and 5α-reductase inhibition. J Neurophysiol. 2019 Oct 9. doi: 10.1152/jn.00039.2019. [Epub ahead of print] PMID:31596653.

Boychuk CR, Smith, KCs, Peterson, LE, Boychuk, JA, Butler, CR, Derera, ID, McCarthy, JJ, and Smith, BN. A hindbrain inhibitory microcircuit mediates vagally-coordinated glucose regulation. Sci Rep. 2019 Feb 25;9(1):2722. doi: 10.1038/s41598-019-39490-x. PMID: 30804396

Diabetes induces GABA receptor plasticity in murine vagal motor neurons. Boychuk CR, Halmos KC, Smith BN. J Neurophysiol. 2015 Jul;114(1):698-706. doi: 10.1152/jn.00209.2015. Epub 2015 May 20. PMID: 25995347

Modulation of bulbospinal rostral ventral lateral medulla neurons by hypoxia/hypercapnia but not medullary respiratory activity. Boychuk CR, Woerman AL, Mendelowitz D. Hypertension. 2012 Dec;60(6):1491-7. doi: 10.1161/HYPERTENSIONAHA.112.197954. Epub 2012 Oct 29. PMID: 23108653

Prenatal nicotine exposure alters postnatal cardiorespiratory integration in young male but not female rats. Boychuk CRHayward LF. Exp Neurol. 2011 Dec;232(2):212-21. doi: 10.1016/j.expneurol.2011.09.006. Epub 2011 Sep 16. PMID: 21945005