Victor D Ramirez

482 Burrill Hall
Office: (217) 333-1293
Fax: (217) 333-1133

Mail to: Department of Molecular and Integrative Physiology
524 Burrill Hall
407 S. Goodwin Ave
Urbana, IL 61801

Victor D Ramirez

Professor Emeritus of Molecular and Integrative Physiology
Professor Emeritus of Neuroscience

Research Topics

Endocrinology, Neurobiology, Regulation of Gene Expression, Signal Transduction


M.D. 1950-1956 University of Chile
Postdoc. 1963-1964 University of California, Los Angeles

Molecular Neuroendocrinology

My current research focus on two areas of potential clinical interest: The first, study the effect of a novel neurotrophic factor discovered in my laboratory in 1987 and named Dopamine-releasing protein (DARP) because of its potent dopamine-releasing action upon dopaminergic neurons. This protein may have potential clinical use in neurodegenerative disorders, particularly Parkinson's disease. A patent was awarded in 1992 and a synthetic peptide of 36 amino-acid, named DARP-36 was prepared. When the peptide is administered subcutaneously it recovers partially, (at the doses so far tested) the levels of dopamine in the corpus striatum and significantly reduced the amphetamine-induced rotations in animals model of Parkinson. In addition, the protein can be detected in the serum and cerebral spinal fluid of humans with an ELISA method developed in my laboratory suggesting that this protein could be used as a diagnostic tool for Parkinson's or other neurodegenerative diseases. This work has been partially supported by Chiron Corp.

The second area, study the rapid actions of sex-steroid hormones (particularly estrogen and progesterone) upon dopamine release from the nerve terminals of the nigro-striatal dopamine system. It is postulated that specific membrane steroid receptors mediates this rapid responses and therefore isolation and chemical characterization of these proteins is currently being carried out. The use of a novel ligand, steroid conjugated to bovine serum albumin (steroid-BSA conjugates) and radioiodinated with iodogen to high specific activity has facilitated the demonstration of specific sites for these steroids in different areas of the rat brain. Cloning of such molecules is part of our research program as well as to examine the mechanism by which estrogen and progesterone stimulate or facilitates dopaminergic functions. The work can lead to the development of new pharmacological drugs for steroid hormones with selective actions at the plasma membrane of neurons.

Representative Publications

Ramirez, V.D. and Zheng, J. (1999) "Non-Genomic Effects of Estrogen," In "Handbook of Experimental Phamacology" (M. Oettel and E. Schillinger eds.), Springs Berlin.

Ramirez, V.D. and Zheng, J. (1999) "Steroid Receptors in Brain Cell Membranes," In "Contempory Endocrinology" (E. Baulieu, P. Robel and M. Schumacher eds.), New York: The Humane Press Inc..

Zheng, J. and Ramirez, V.D. (1999) "Rapid inhibition of rat brain mitochondrial proton F0F1 - ATPase activity by estrogens: comparison with Na+, K+ - ATPase of porcine cortex," Eur. J. Pharmacol. 368: 95-102. [Abstract]

Zheng, J. and Ramirez, V.D. (1999) "Purification and Identification of an Estrogen Binding Protein from Rat Brain: Oligomycin Sensitivity - Conferring Protein (OSCP), a subunit of mitochondrial F0F1 - ATP Synthase / ATPase," J. Ster. Biochem. Mol Biol. 68: 65-75. [Abstract]

Moats, R.K. and Ramirez, V.D. (1998) "Rapid Uptake and Binding of Estradiol-17beta-6-(O-Carboxymethyl) Oxime: 125I-labeled BSA by Female Rat Liver," Biol. Reprod. 58: 531-538. [Abstract]

Complete Publications List