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Rayna J. Gonzales, PhD

Associate Professor, Department of Basic Medical Sciences
(602) 827-2143
(602) 827-2127
UA Office Building and Room : 
Building ABC1, Room 323
425 N. 5th St., Phoenix, AZ 85004
Post-Doc Cerebrovascular Physiology: Department of Pharmacology, University of California Irvine School of Medicine; 2001 - 2005
PhD Vascular Biology: Department of Biomedical Sciences, University of New Mexico School of Medicine; 2000

Dr. Gonzales is a vascular physiologist with an emphasis in cerebrovascular pharmacology. She received a Masters of Science in Biology and a Doctorate in Biomedical Sciences from the University of New Mexico School of Medicine. She is a strong advocate for young minority scientists and women and is extensively involved with The American Physiological Society (APS) and The American Society of Pharmacology and Experimental Therapeutics. As member of these organizations, Dr. Gonzales has served on several committees including the APS Advisory Board for Minority Students in Biomedicine and the APS Porter Physiology Development Program. The overall goal of these programs is to promote and educate the new generation of upcoming research scientists and support career development of young minority scientists in the fields of physiology and pharmacology.


My research is in the area of cardiovascular and cerebrovascular physiology. I am particularly interested in the physiology and pharmacology of the modulation by sex steroids of vascular function during pathophysiological and normal physiological conditions. The focus of my current research is to investigate the effect of androgens (dihydrotestosterone and testosterone) on vascular reactivity and molecular mechanisms (HIF-1 alpha and nuclear factor kappa-B activation) involved in cerebrovascular inflammation induced by hypoxia, cytokine, or experimental stroke.

To address the functional and molecular changes in the cerebral blood vessel wall following hypoxia or ischemia both an in vivo hormone replacement rat model and cultured human brain endothelial cells are used. The in vivo hormone replacement model allows me to investigate the influence of androgens on vascular inflammation induced by experimental stroke, preserving complex interactions and specializations within the cerebral vasculature. In contrast, the cultured human endothelial cell model is used to address more mechanistic approaches concerning the effect of androgens on inflammation and hypoxia, investigating whether androgen receptor stimulation activates transcription. Experimental approaches used for these studies include middle cerebral artery occlusion, microscopic video imaging of diameter changes in isolated, pressurized cerebral arteries, scanning confocal microscopy, immunohistochemistry, and molecular biology.

Since androgens and related compounds are being used with increasing frequency, it is critical to remedy the current lack of knowledge of the physiological effects of gonadal steroids. Better understanding of how androgens modulate transcriptional and signaling pathways in vascular pathophysiology is important for developing pharmacological interventions to manage cerebrovascular diseases such as stroke.

Rayna J. Gonzales, PhD
Selected Publications

PubMed Link:

Search PubMed for a complete listing of Dr. Gonzales' publications


  1. Gonzales RJ and SC Wood.  Hypothermia in hypoxic animals:  mechanisms, mediators, and functional significance.  Comparative Biochemistry and Physiology. (1996) Jan; 113B (1):37-43. PMID: 8936041
  2. Resta TC, Gonzales RJ, Dail WG, Sanders TC, and Walker BR.  Selective upregulation of arterial endothelial nitric oxide synthase in pulmonary hypertension.  American Journal of Physiology: Heart and Circulatory Physiology. (1997) Feb; 272(2):H806-H813. PMID: 9124442
  3. Gonzales RJ and Kanagy NL. Endothelium-independent relaxation of vascular smooth muscle by 17beta-estradiol. Journal of Cardiovascular Pharmacology Therapeutics. (1999) Oct; 4(4):227-234. PMID: 10684544
  4. Gonzales RJ, Carter RW, and Kanagy NL. Laboratory demonstration of vascular smooth muscle function using rat aortic ring segments. American Journal of Physiology: Advances in Physiology Education. (2000) Dec; 24(1):13-21. PMID: 11209559
  5. Gonzales RJ, Walker BR, and Kanagy NL. 17b-estradiol increases nitric oxide-dependent dilation in rat pulmonary arteries and thoracic aorta. American Journal of Physiology: Lung Cellular and Molecular Physiology. (2000) Oct; 280:L555-L564. PMID: 11159040
  6. Gonzales RJ and Walker BR. Role of CO in attenuated vasoconstrictor reactivity of mesenteric resistance arteries after chronic hypoxia. American Journal of Physiology: Heart and Circulatory Physiology. (2002) Jan; 282:H30-H37. PMID: 11748044
  7. Gonzales RJ, Krause DN, and Duckles SP. Testosterone suppresses endothelium-dependent dilation of rat middle cerebral arteries. American Journal of Physiology: Heart and Circulatory Physiology. (2004) Feb; 286:H552-H560 (Corresponding author). PMID: 14551047
  8. Li X, Geary GG, Gonzales RJ, Krause DN, and Duckles SP. Effect of estrogen on cerebrovascular prostaglandins is amplified in mice with dysfunctional NOS. American Journal of Physiology: Heart and Circulatory Physiology. (2004)Aug;287:H588-H594. PMID: 15277199
  9. Gonzales RJ, Krause DN, and Duckles SP. Testosterone treatment increases thromboxane function in rat cerebral arteries. American Journal of Physiology: Heart and Circulatory Physiology. (2005) Aug; 289:H578-H585 (Corresponding author). PMID: 15764681
  10. Gonzales RJ, Ansar S, Duckles SP, and Krause DN. Androgenic/estrogenic balance in the male rat cerebral circulation: metabolic enzymes and sex steroid receptors.  Journal of Cerebral Blood Flow and Metabolism. (2007) Nov; 27:1841–1852 (Corresponding author). PMID: 17406656
  11. Gonzales RJ, Bryant JM, Naik JS, Resta TC, and Walker BR. Gender differences in mesenteric vasoconstrictor reactivity following chronic hypoxia. Microcirculation. (2008) Aug; 15(6):473-484 (Corresponding author). PMID: 19086257
  12. Gonzales RJ, Duckles SP, and Krause DN. Dihydrotestosterone stimulates cerebrovascular inflammation through NFkappaB, modulating contractile function.  Journal of Cerebral Blood Flow and Metabolism. (2009) Feb; 29:244-253 (Corresponding author). PMID: 18941467
  13. Osterlund KL, Handa RJ, and Gonzales RJ. Dihydrotestosterone alters cyclooxygenase-2 levels in human coronary artery smooth muscle cells. American Journal of Physiology Endocrinology and Metabolism. (2010) Apr; 298: E838-E845 (Corresponding author). PMID: 20103743
  14. Krause, DN, Duckles SP, and Gonzales RJ. Local estrogenic/androgenic balance in the cerebral vasculature. Acta Physiologica. (2011)Sep; 203, 181-186. PMID: 21535417
  15. Zuloaga KL and Gonzales RJ. Dihydrotestosterone attenuates HIF-1alpha and Cyclooxygenase-2 in cerebral arteries following hypoxia or hypoxia with glucose deprivation.  American Journal of Physiology Heart & Circulatory Physiology. (2011) Nov; 301(5):H1882-1890. PMID: 21856910
  16. Zuloaga KL, O’Connor DT, Handa RJ, and Gonzales RJ. Estrogen receptor beta dependent attenuation of cytokine-induced cyclooxygenase-2 by androgens in human brain vascular smooth muscle cells and rat mesenteric arteries. Steroids. (2012) Jul; 77(8-9):835-44. PMID: 22542504