Alan F. Sved, PhD

Professor and Chair, Neuroscience; Center for Neuroscience Co-Director


A215 Langley Hall
F: 412-624-9198


PhD, MIT (1980)


Central neural control of the autonomic nervous system and cardiovascular function; neurobiology of nicotine pharmacology.

Research Summary

Research being conducted in Professor Sved's laboratory is focused on three distinct themes: the central neural control of cardiovascular function and fluid homeostasis, particularly as it relates to the pathogenesis of hypertension; the general organization of central neural pathways controlling the autonomic nervous system; and the neuropharmacology of nicotine.

Studies on the central neural control of cardiovascular function are currently aimed at understanding the role of the brain in the long-term regulation of blood pressure. This line of research uses pharmacological, neurochemical, and neuroanatomical techniques to determine the brain circuitry involved in baroreceptor-independent control of blood pressure in rats, and how modulation of this circuitry can result in hypertension. Additional studies examine the influence of increased dietary salt intake on this neural circuitry.

Studies aimed at understanding the organization of central neural pathways controlling the autonomic nervous system are currently using transynaptic retrograde transport of neurotropic viruses to delineate the central neural circuits that coordinate the regulation of autonomic control of different visceral targets in rats.

Studies examining the neuropharmacology are focused on why nicotine is a widely abused drug. Specifically, our current studies examine the interaction of nicotine with non-pharmacological environmental cues in sustaining robust nicotine self-administration in rats.

Summer Undergraduate Research Program



Self-administered nicotine differentially impacts body weight gain in obesity-prone and obesity-resistant rats.
Rupprecht LE, Smith TT, Donny EC, Sved AF.
Physiol Behav. 2017 Feb 8. pii: S0031-9384(16)31042-3. doi: 10.1016/j.physbeh.2017.02.007. PMID: 28189503
Reducing nicotine exposure results in weight gain in smokers randomised to very low nicotine content cigarettes.
Rupprecht LE, Koopmeiners JS, Dermody SS, Oliver JA, al'Absi M, Benowitz NL, Denlinger-Apte R, Drobes DJ, Hatsukami D, McClernon FJ, Pacek LR, Smith TT, Sved AF, Tidey J, Vandrey R, Donny EC.
Tob Control. 2016 Nov 17. pii: tobaccocontrol-2016-053301. doi: 10.1136/tobaccocontrol-2016-053301. PMID: 27856940
Characterizing the relationship between increases in the cost of nicotine and decreases in nicotine content in adult male rats: implications for tobacco regulation.
Smith TT, Rupprecht LE, Sved AF, Donny EC.
Psychopharmacology (Berl). 2016 Dec;233(23-24):3953-3964. PMID: 27627909

Palmatier, M.I., Liu, X., Donny, E.C., Caggiula, A.R. and Sved, A.F. Metabotropic glutamate 5 receptor (mGluR5) antagonists decrease nicotine seeking, but do not affect the reinforcement enhancing effects of nicotine. Neuropsychopharmacology Aug;33(9):2139-47, 2008.

Palmatier, M.I., Liu, X., Matteson, G.L., Donny, E.C., Caggiula, A.R. and Sved, A.F. Conditioned reinforcement in rats established with self-administered nicotine and enhanced by noncontingent nicotine. Psychopharmacology (Berl) Dec;195(2):235-43, 2007.

Adams, J.M., Madden, C.J., Sved, A.F. and Stocker, S.D. Increased dietary salt enhances sympathoexcitatory and sympathoinhibitory responses from the rostral ventrolateral medulla. Hypertension Aug;50(2):354-9, 2007.

Palmatier, M.I., Liu, X., Caggiula, A.R., Donny, E.C. and Sved, A.F. The role of nicotinic acetylcholine receptors in the primary reinforcing and reinforcement-enhancing effects of nicotine. Neuropsychopharmacology May;32(5):1098-108, 2007.

Card, J.P., Sved, J.C., Craig, B., Raizada, M., Vazquez, J. and Sved, A.F. Efferent projections of rat rostroventrolateral medulla C1 catecholamine neurons: Implications for the central control of cardiovascular regulation. J Comp Neurol. Dec 10;499(5):840-59, 2006.


  • cardiovascular function

Eric Donny