Jennifer L. Barreto, PhD

Graduate Program Coordinator
Jennifer L. Barreto, PhD

Research Interests

Behavioral Neuroscience, Neuroendocrinology, Neural Basis of Drug Addiction.

Our laboratory has developed two main research projects that investigate the neurobiology aspects of behavior. The first project studies the behavior under the influence of hormones, while the second one studies behavior during drug addiction. For these studies, we use mice and rats as (pre-clinical) animal models.

For hormones and behavior, we study the effect of anabolic androgenic steroids (AAS) in different behavioral components, including reproductive-related behaviors, anxiety, learning & memory, and addiction. We are also interested in determining the cellular and molecular mechanisms that occur in the brain after the presence of supraphysiological doses of AAS.

Our second project studies the effect of deep brain stimulation (DBS) in morphine addiction. We have tested high and low-DBS frequencies aimed at the nucleus accumbens of the brain to determine the possible beneficial effects for the extinction of drug-associated behaviors. We would also like to note that this project has a molecular component, to determine the biological substrates underlying the effects of DBS. Results from this study might represent a potential adjunct for extinction-based therapies for treatment-refractory opioid addicts.

Selected Publications:

  • Martinez-Rivera FJ, Martinez NA, Martinez M, Ayala-Pagan RN, Silva WI, Barreto-Estrada, JL. Neuroplasticity transcript profile of the ventral striatum in the extinction of opioid-induced place preference. Neurobiol Learn Mem 163(2019).
  • Martínez-Rivera, F.J., Barreto-Estrada, J.L. Reply to: Does High-frequency Deep Brain Stimulation in dorsal regions of the ventral striatum impair extinction of morphine-induced place preference? Biol Psychiatry. 2018; 83(1).
  • Martínez-Rivera FJ, Pérez-Laspiur J, Santiago-Gascot ME, Alemán-Reyes AG, García-Santiago E, Rodríguez-Pérez Y, Calo-Guadalupe C, Otero-Pagán I, Ayala-Pagán RN, Martínez M, Cantres-Rosario YM, Meléndez LM, Barreto-Estrada JL. Differential protein expression profile in the hypothalamic GT1-7 cell line after exposure to anabolic androgenic steroids. PLos One. 2017;12(7) PMCID: PMC5515402.
  • Martínez-Rivera, F.J., Rodriguez-Romaguera, J., Lloret-Torres, M.E., Do Monte, F.H., Quirk,G.J., Barreto-Estrada, J.L. Bidirectional modulation of extinction of drug seeking by deep brain stimulation of the ventral striatum. Biol Psychiatry. 2016; 80(9):682-690.
  • Martínez-Rivera FL, Natal-Albelo EJ, Martinez NA, Orozco-Vega RA, Muñiz-Seda OA, Barreto-Estrada JL (2015) The effect of the anabolic steroid, nandrolone, in conditioned place preference and D1 dopamine receptor expression in adolescent and adult mice. Behavioural Processes, in press.
  • Ramos-Pratts K*, Rosa-González D, Pérez-Acevedo NL, Cintrón-López D, Barreto-Estrada JL.(2013) Sex-specific effect of the anabolic steroid, 17α-methyltestosterone, on inhibitory avoidance learning in periadolescent rats. Behav Processes. 99:73-80.
  • Acevedo P, Jorge JC, Cruz-Sánchez A, Amy E, Barreto-Estrada JL. (2011) A ten-year assessment of anabolic steroid misuse among competitive athletes in Puerto Rico. West Indian Med J 60(5):531-535.
  • Sánchez-Montoya, E., Hernández, L., Barreto-Estrada, J.L., Ortiz, J.G., Jorge, J.C. The testosterone metabolite 3α-Diol enhances female rat sexual motivation when infused in the nucleus accumbens shell. J Sex Med. 2010; 7(11):3598-609. PMID: 20646192.
  • Parrilla-Carrero J, Figueroa O, Lugo A, García-Sosa R, Brito-Vargas P, Cruz B, Rivera M, Barreto-Estrada JL. (2009) The anabolic steroids testosterone propionate and nandrolone but not 17α-methyltestosterone induce conditioned place preference in adult mice. Drug & Alcohol Depend. 100(1-2):122-7.
  • Barreto-Estrada JL, Parrilla-Carrero J, Jorge JC. (2007) Exposure to an anabolic steroid changes female mice sexual responses according to sex partner. J Sex Med 4(4 Pt 1):878-885.
  • Barreto-Estrada Jennifer, Barreto J, Fortis-Santiago Y, Rivera-Ramos I, Fortis Santiago A, Jorge JC. (2004) Modulation of affect after chronic exposure to the anabolic steroid 17α-methyltestosterone in adult mice. Behavioral Neuroscience 118(5):1071-1079.
  • Barreto-Estrada Jennifer, Medina W, García-Arrarás JE. (2003) The morphological and biochemical response of avian embryonic sympathoadrenal cells to NGF is developmentally regulated. Developmental Brain Research 144:1-8.
  • Ramírez-Ordóñez R, Barreto-Estrada JL, García-Arrarás JE. (1999) Growth factors effects on the expression of morphological and biochemical properties of avian embryonic sympathetic cells. Emphasis on NGF. Developmental Brain Research, 114: 27-36
  • Barreto-Estrada J, Medina-Vera L, De Jesús-Escobar J, García-Arrarás JE. (1997) Development of galanin- and enkephalin-like immunoreactivities in the sympathoadrenal lineage of the avian embryo; In vivo and in vitro studies. Developmental Neuroscience. 19: 328-336.

Selected abstracts/presentations:

  • Lloret-Torres M., Pagán-Ayala, R, Martínez-Rivera, F., González, L., Barreto-Estrada JL. Hyppocampal, amygdalar and accumbal BDNF in morphine extinction. Society for Neuroscience/Global Conectome (Virtual), Jan 2021 and 27th Annual Neuroscience Conference, PR Chapter (Virtual), Dec 2020.
  • Sanchez G., Lloret-Torres, M., Martínez-Rivera, F., Barreto-Estrada, JL. The effects of low-frequency deep brain stimulation (DBS) on  reinstatement of morphine place preference. Emory University Stem Research and Career Symposium, Sep 2018, Atlanta, Georgia.
  • Rosa-González, D., Villafañe-Martínez, B., Ramos-Pratts, K.M., Pérez-Acevedo, N.L., Barreto-Estrada, J.L. Impaired emotional memory by acute injections of anabolic steroids in male and female adolescent rats. SfN, P.R. Chapter. San Juan, P.R. Dec 2011.
  • Silva-Gotay, A., Ramos-Pratts K., Barreto-Estrada, J.L. The anabolic steroid 17α-methyltestosterone decreased sexual play behavior in adolescent male rats. SfN, P.R. Chapter. San Juan, P.R. Dec 2011.
  • Ramos-Pratts, K.M., Huertas, A., Silva-Gotay, A., Parrilla- Carrero, J., Roig-López, J.L. Barreto-Estrada, J.L. The role of the hypothalamic NPYergic circuitry in the anabolic steroid-induced rough and tumble play and sexual behavior. SfN, P.R. Chapter. San Juan, P.R. Dec 2011.
  • Brito-Vargas P, Cruz B, Parrilla-Carrero J, Figueroa O, Rivera M, Lugo A, Garcia R, Barreto-Estrada JL (2008). Class I and class II anabolic steroids, but not class III, induce conditioned place preference in adult mice. Summer-RISE Meeting. UPR-Medical Sciences Campus, San Juan, PR. Aug 1, 2008.
  • Moreno E, Lugo F, Barreto-Estrada JL, Roig-Lopez JL. (2008) Sphere forming assay for in vitro generation of neurons from skin progenitor cells. Summer-RISE Meeting. UPR-Medical Sciences Campus
  • Ramos-Pratts KM, Santiago-Gascot ME, Villafane B, Pérez-Acevedo NL, Roig-López JL, Barreto-Estrada JL (2008) Anabolic steroids affect emotional memory in female pubertal rats: Possible role of NPY. IBNS, St. Thomas.
  • Parrilla-Carrero, Santiago-Gascot ME, Roig-Lopez JL, Barreto-Estrada JL (2008) Anabolic steroids affect sexual motivation in male pubertal rats: Possible role of NPY. IBNS, St. Thomas. Santiago-Gascot ME, Santiago-Castro S, Barreto-Estrada JL (2008) Anabolic steroid modulation of Neuropeptide Y levels in brain regions controlling anxiety and reproductive-related behaviors in pubertal rats. IBNS, St. Thomas.
  • Ramos-Pratts KM, Santiago-Gascot ME, Villafane B, Pérez-Acevedo NL, Parrilla-Carrero J, Roig-López JL, Barreto-Estrada JL (2008) Anabolic steroids decrease passive avoidance learning in female pubertal rats: possible role of Neuropeptide Y in amygdala-dependent emotional memory. Molecular and Cellular Cognition Society-Puerto Rico Chapter, University of Puerto Rico, Rio Piedras, PR.
  • Ramos-Pratts KM, Villafañe B, Pérez-Acevedo NL, Barreto-Estrada JL (2008) Anabolic steroids affect emotional memory in female pubertal rats. III Symposium of Graduate Research in Biology. Río Piedras, PR.
  • Villafañe B, Ramos-PrattsKM, Pérez-Acevedo NL, Barreto-Estrada JL (2008) Anabolic steroids affect emotional memory in female pubertal rats. New England Science Symposium, The Conference Center at Harvard Medical, Boston, MA.
  • Labault J, Lugo A, Parrilla-Carrero J, Roig-López JL, Barreto-Estrada JL (2008) In Vitro conditions for cellular growth of amygdala and hypothalamic cells from postnatal rats. Annual Forum of Research and Education. UPR-MSC.
  • Jorge JC, Arriaga D, Barreto-Estrada JL. (2007) Anabolic steroid effects in the GABAergic system within the mesolimbic circuitry of reward. Society for Neuroscience, San Diego CA.
  • Lugo A, Figueroa O, Rivera M, Parrilla-Carrero J, García G, Barreto-Estrada JL. (2007) Profile of anabolic steroids in hedonic and anxiety behavioral domains according to chemical structure. ABRCMS, Austin, Texas.
  • Rodríguez N, Suárez A, Barreto-Estrada JL. (2007) Ethanol consumption in adolescent and adult mice after chronic exposure to anabolic androgenic steroids. ABRCMS, Austin, Texas.
  • Parrilla Carrero J, Barreto-Estrada JL, Jorge JC. (2007) The sexual partner Influences the female mating response alter exposure to an anabolic steroid. International Behavioral Neuroscience Society (IBNS), Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.
  • Rodríguez N, Suárez AJ, Parrilla J, Barreto-Estrada JL, Jorge JC. (2007) Do the anabolic androgenic steroids 17α-methyltestosterone and nandrolone affect ETOH consumption in adult and pubertal mice? 2nd Symposium Undergraduate Research, Universidad Central del Caribe, Bayamón, PR.
  • Díaz-Meléndez A, Parrilla J, Jorge JC, Barreto-Estrada JL. (2007) Long term-effects in OVX female mice reproductive-related behaviors during withdrawal of anabolic androgenic steroids. 2nd Symposium Undergraduate Research, Universidad Central del Caribe.
  • Santiago ME, Arroyo S, Colón L, Barreto-Estrada JL, Jorge JC, Lizardi L. (2007) Estrogen modulates the extinction of conditioned fear. National Council of Undergraduate Research (NCUR), CA.
  • Arriaga D, Barreto-Estrada JL, Jorge JC. (2007) Differential modulation of GABA-IR cells in the NAc and VTA after anabolic steroid treatment in pubertal and adult mice. PR. Jr. Technical, Interamerican University, Bayamón.

Contact Info

Medical Sciences Campus
Dr. Guillermo Arbona Irizarry Bldg.
5th Floor, Lab A553/554/555
787-758-2525 x2300 (ofic) x7013 (lab)