Valentina Sabino, Ph.D.


Associate Professor of Pharmacology and Psychiatry
Department of Pharmacology

Ph.D.: University of Palermo, Palermo, Italy

LAD - Laboratory of Addictive Disorders
(click for lab site)

Research Interests

Dr. Sabino is co-director of the Laboratory of Addictive Disorders, and is currently researching the neurobiology of addiction and stress-related disorders. Studies on addiction aim to understand the neurobiological substrates of alcohol abuse and dependence by exploring the role of neurochemical systems in excessive alcohol drinking.

Dr. Sabino is working toward the development of new therapeutic agents to alleviate alcohol addiction. Animal models for excessive drinking are studied in order to identify compounds for potential clinical development. Research is also conducted on the neurobiology of stress-related disorders such as anxiety and depression.

The approach of the laboratory is interdisciplinary, involving behavioral neuroscience, neuropharmacology, neuroanatomy, biochemistry and molecular biology.

Dr. Sabino co-directs a graduate course in neuropsychopharmacology offered for the first time in Fall 2010 which examines the interaction between behavior and classes of drugs that affect the central nervous system giving emphasis on how behavioral studies can assist in our understanding of mental disorders.

  • Boston University School of Medicine. Researchers in the Laboratory of Addictive Disorders have discovered that impulsivity is a risk factor for food addiction . Results of the study, published online in Neuropsychopharmacology , suggest that impulsivity promotes pathological overeating.
  • Sciencedaily: Impulsivity is a risk factor for food addition.
  • BUSM Researchers Discover Possible Mechanism for Anxiety and Depression

Velázquez-Sánchez C, Ferragud A, Moore CF, Everitt BJ, Sabino V, Cottone P. Neuropsychopharmacology. To the publication section, we will need two publications added: High Trait Impulsivity Predicts Food Addiction-Like Behavior in the Rat. 2014 Apr 29. doi: 10.1038/npp.2014.98. [Epub ahead of print] PMID: 24776685 .

Baiamonte BA, Valenza M, Roltsch EA, Whitaker AM, Baynes BB, Sabino V, Gilpin NW. Nicotine dependence produces hyperalgesia: role of corticotropin-releasing factor-1 receptors (CRF1Rs) in the central amygdala (CeA). Neuropharmacology. 2014 Feb;77:217-23. doi: 10.1016/j.neuropharm.2013.09.025. Epub 2013 Oct 6. PMID: 24107576

Blasio A, Iemolo A, Sabino V, Petrosino S, Steardo L, Rice KC, Orlando P, Arturo Iannotti F, Di Marzo V, Zorrilla EP, Cottone P. Rimonabant precipitates anxiety in rats withdrawn from palatable food: role of the central amygdale. Neuropsycholpharmacology. 2013 Jun 24. Epub ahead of print.

Cottone P, Wang X, Park JW, Valenza M, Blasio A, Kwak J, Iyer MR, Steardo L, Rice KC, Hayashi T, Sabino V. Antagonism of Sigma-1 Receptors Blocks Compulsive-Like Eating. Neuropsychopharmacology. 2012 Jun 20 [Epub ahead of print.] .

Blasio A, Narayan AR, Kaminski BJ, Steardo L, Sabino V, , Cottone P. A modified adjusting delay task to assess implusive choice between isocaloric reinforcers in non-deprived male rats: effects of 5-HT2A/C and 5-HT1A receptor agonists. Psychopharmacology (Berl). 2012 Jan; 219(2):377-86. .

Fekete EM, Zhao Y, Szücs A, Sabino V, Cottone P, Rivier J, Vale WW, Koob GF, Zorrilla EP. Systemic urocotrin 2, but not urocortin 1 or stressin 1-A, suppresses feeding via CRF2 receptors without malaise and stress. Br J Pharmacol. 2011 Dec; 164(8):1959-75. .

Sabino V, Cottone P, Blasio A, Iyer MR, Steardo L, Rice KC, Conti B, Koob GF, Zorrilla EP. Activation of σ-receptor induces binge-like drinking in Sardinian alcohol-preferring rats. Neuropsychopharmacology. 2011 May; 36(6):1207-18. PMC 3079320. .

Repunte-Canonigo V, van der Stap LD, Chen J, Sabino V, Wagner U, Zorrilla EP, Schumann G, Roberts AJ, Sanna PP. Genome-wide gene expression analysis identifies K-ras as a regulator of alcohol intake. Brain Res. 2010 Jun 21;1339: 1-10. PMC2925131..

Roberto M; Cruz MT; Gilpin NW; Sabino V; Schweitzer P; Bajo M; Cottone P; Madamba S; Stouffer DG; Zorrilla EP; Koob GF; Siggins GR; Parsons LH. CRF-induced amygdala GABA release plays a key role in alcohol dependence. Biol Psychiatry. (2010); 67(9):831-9. PMC2785284..

Cottone P, Sabino V, Roberto M, Bajo M, Pockros L, Frihauf J, Fekete EM, Steardo L, Rice KC, Grigoriadis D, Conti B, Koob GF, Zorrilla EP. CRF system recruitment mediates dark side of compulsive eating. Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. (2009); 106(47):20016-20. PMC 2785284. .

Fonareva I, Spangler E, Cannella N, Sabino V, Cottone P, Ciccocioppo R, Zorrilla EP, Ryabinin AE. Increased perioculomotor Urocortin 1 immunoreactivity in genetically selected alcohol preferring rats. Alcohol Clin Exp Res. (2009); 33(11):1956-65. PMC 2813693..

Sabino V, Cottone P, Zhao Y, Steardo L, Koob GF, Zorrilla EP. Selective reduction of alcohol drinking in Sardinian alcohol-preferring rats by a sigma-1 receptor antagonist. Psychopharmacol (2009); 205(2): 327-335. PMC2748837.

Fekete EM, Zhao Y, Li C, Sabino V, Vale WW, Zorrilla EP. Social defeat stress activates medial amygdala cells that express type 2 corticotropin-releasing factor receptor mRNA. Neuroscience (2009); 162(1): 5-13. PMC2754763.

Sabino V, Cottone P, Parylak SL, Steardo L, Zorrilla EP. Sigma-1 receptor knockout mice display a depressive-like phenotype. Behav Brain Res (2009); 198(2): 472-476. PMC2667953.

Sabino V, Cottone P*, Zhao Y, Iyer M, Steardo L yr, Steardo L, Rice KC, Conti B, Koob GF, Zorrilla EP. The sigma receptor antagonist BD-1063 decreases ethanol intake and reinforcement in animal models of excessive drinking. Neuropsychopharmacol (2009); 34(6): 1482-93. PMC2669694.

Cottone P, Sabino V, Steardo L, Zorrilla EP. Consummatory, anxiety-related and metabolic adaptations in female rats with alternating access to preferred food. Psychoneuroendocrinol (2009); 34(1):38-49. PMC Journal – In Process.

Cottone P, Sabino V, Steardo S, Zorrilla EP. Intermittent preferred food access reduces the reinforcing efficacy of chow in rats. Am J Physiol Regul Integr Comp Physiol (2008); 295(4):R1066-76. PMC2576087.

Cottone P, Sabino V, Steardo L, Zorrilla EP. Opioid-dependent anticipatory negative contrast and binge-like eating in rats with limited access to highly preferred food. Neuropsychopharmacol (2008); 33(3):524-35. PMC Journal – In Process.

Cottone P, Sabino V, Nagy TR, Rivier JE, Coscina DV, Zorrilla EP. Feeding microstructure in diet-induced obesity susceptible and resistant rats: comparative central effects of urocortin 2. J Physiol (2007); 583(Pt 2):487-504. PMC2277029.

Sabino V, Cottone P, Steardo L, Schmidhammer H, Zorrilla EP. 14-methoxymetopon, a highly potent mu opioid agonist, biphasically affects ethanol intake in Sardinian alcohol-preferring rats. Psychopharmacol (2007); 192(4):537-46. PMC Journal – In Process.

Cottone P, Sabino V, Steardo L, Zorrilla EP. FG 7142 specifically reduces meal size and the rate and regularity of sustained feeding in female rats: evidence that benzodiazepine inverse agonists reduce food palatability. Neuropsychopharmacol (2007); 32(5):1069-81. PMC Journal – In Process.

Sabino V, Cottone P, Koob GF, Steardo L, Lee MJ, Rice KC, Zorrilla EP. Dissociation between opioid and CRF1 antagonist sensitive drinking in Sardinian alcohol-preferring rats. Psychopharmacol (2006); 189(2):175-86. PMC Journal – In Process.

Valdez GR, Sabino V, Koob GF. Increased anxiety-like behavior and ethanol self-administration in dependent rats: reversal via corticotropin-releasing factor-2 receptor activation. Alcohol Clin Exp Res (2004); 28(6):865-72. PMC Journal – In Process.

Office: R-612
Phone: 617-638-4327
Fax: 617-638-5254