Kenia Pedrosa Nunes

Associate Professor | Biomedical and Chemical Engineering and Sciences

Contact Information
(321) 674-7134
F.W. Olin Life Sciences, 147

Personal Overview

I am a vascular biologist who studies diseases such as diabetes, hypertension, and erectile dysfunction (ED). I received my master’s degree in Molecular and Biochemistry Pharmacology and my Ph.D. in Human Physiology from the Federal University of Minas Gerais, Brazil. My work includes research and two patents on using a spider toxin (PnTx2-6) to treat ED. This research project has been performed in collaboration with scientists in Brazil. In 2009, as a postdoctoral fellow at Augusta University (former Medical College of Georgia), I studied how the innate immune system contributes to vascular dysfunction in chronic diseases such as hypertension and diabetes. In 2015 I joined Florida Tech and started the Vascular Biology lab. Currently, my lab research focused on molecules such as HSP70 and TLR4 as pharmacological targets to mitigate vascular problems.  

Educational Background

Post-doc. Vascular Biology - Medical College of Georgia - Augusta University, USA

Ph.D. Physiology - Federal University of Minas Gerais - Brazil

M.Sc. Biomedical & Molecular Pharmacology - Federal University of Minas Gerais - Brazil

B.S. Biology - Federal University of Minas Gerais - Brazil 

Professional Experience

  • 2021-Current: Associate Professor, Department of Biomedical & Chemical Engineering & Sciences
  • 07/2015- 2020: Assistant Professor, Department of Biological Sciences, College of Sciences, FIT
  • 06/2013-06/2015: Associate Scientist, Department of Cell and Regenerative Biology, School of Medicine and Public Health, University of Wisconsin;
  • 06/2012-2013: Assistant Research Scientist, Augusta University, Medical College of Georgia, Department of Physiology;
  • 02/2009-2012: Postdoctoral Fellow, Augusta University, Medical College of Georgia, Department of Physiology,
  • 02/2004-2008: Assistant Professor of Physiology, University President Antonio Carlos, Nursing School, Campus in Conselheiro Lafaiete, Minas Gerais, Brazil.

Current Courses

Human Anatomy and Physiology I & II 

Applied Physiology

Scientific Skills - Vascular Function and Dysfunction

Cardiovascular Mechanisms and Pathways

Biological Research 


Selected Publications

  1. Hypertension and erectile dysfunction: breaking down the challenges. AA de Oliveira* & KP Nunes. American Journal of Hypertension. Invited review. Accepted on August 27, 2020.


    Blockade of TLR4-MD2 complex lowers blood pressure and improves vascular function in a murine model of type 1 diabetes. AA de Oliveira*, J Faustino*, RC Webb, KP Nunes. Scientific Reports 10, 12032, 2020. DOI: 10.1038/s41598-020-68919-x


    An additional physiological role for HSP70: Assistance of vascular reactivity. AA de Oliveira* & KP Nunes. Life Sciences, 117986, 2020. DOI: 10.1016/j.lfs.2020.117986


    Angiotensin (1-7) Inhibits Ang II-mediated ERK1/2 Activation by Stimulating MKP-1 Activation in Vascular Smooth Muscle Cells. A Sousa-Lopes, R Alves de Freitas, FS Carneiro, KP Nunes, et al. International Journal of Molecular and Cellular Medicine (IJMCM), 9 (1), 50-61, 2020. DOI: 10.22088/IJMCM.BUMS.9.1.50


    Blockade of Toll-like receptor 4 (TLR4) reduces oxidative stress and restores phospho-ERK1/2 levels in Leydig cells exposed to high glucose. T Karpova, AA de Oliveira*, H Naas*, F Priviero, KP Nunes. Life Sciences, 117365, 2020. DOI: 10.1016/j.lfs.2020.117365


    Toll-like receptor 4 (TLR4) as a possible pathological mechanism in hyperglycemia-associated testicular dysfunction. H Naas*, AA de Oliveira*, T Karpova, KP Nunes. Medical Hypotheses, 127, 116-119, 2019. DOI: 10.1016/j.mehy.2019.04.010


    Toll-like receptor 4 and blood pressure: Lessons from animal studies. KP Nunes, AA de Oliveira*, VV Lima, RC Webb. Frontiers in Physiology, 655, 2019. DOI: 10.3389/fphys.2019.00655


    Unveiling the interplay between the TLR4/MD2 complex and HSP70 in the human cardiovascular system: a computational approach. AA de Oliveira*, J Faustino*, ME de Lima, R Menezes, KP Nunes. International Journal of Molecular Sciences, 20 (13), 3121, 2019. DOI: 10.3390/ijms20133121


    PnPP-19 Peptide Restores Erectile Function in Hypertensive and Diabetic Animals Through Intravenous and Topical Administration. CN da Silva, KP Nunes, FDM Almeida, FLS Costa, PV Borges, P Lacativa, et al. The Journal of Sexual Medicine, 16 (3), 365-374, 2019. DOI: 10.1016/j.jsxm.2019.01.004


    Pattern recognition receptors as potential therapeutic targets in metabolic syndrome: From bench to bedside. AA de Oliveira*, D Davis*, KP Nunes. Diabetes & Metabolic Syndrome: Clinical Research & Reviews, 13 (2), 1117-1122., 2019. DOI: 10.1016/j.dsx.2019.01.012


    Targeting toll‐like receptor 4 signaling pathways: can therapeutics pay the toll for hypertension? KP Nunes, AA de Oliveira*, FE Mowry, VC Biancardi. British Journal of Pharmacology, 176 (12), 1864-1879, 2018. DOI: 10.1111/bph.14438


    Toll-Like Receptor 4 and Heat-Shock Protein 70: Is it a New Target Pathway for Diabetic Vasculopathies? AA de Oliveira*, RC Webb, KP Nunes. Current Drug Targets, 20 (1), 51-59, 2018.  DOI: 10.2174/1389450119666180821105544


    Blockade of toll-like receptor 4 attenuates erectile dysfunction in diabetic rats. KP Nunes, AA de Oliveira*, T Szasz, VC Biancardi, RC Webb. The Journal of Sexual Medicine, 15 (9), 1235-1245, 2018. DOI: 10.1016/j.jsxm.2018.07.005


    The interplay between Angiotensin II, TLR4 and hypertension. VC Biancardi, GF Bomfim, WL Reis, S Al-Gassimi*, KP Nunes. Pharmacological Research, 120, 88-96, 2017. DOI: 10.1016/j.phrs.2017.03.017


    Toll-like receptor 4 (TLR4) impairs nitric oxide contributing to Angiotensin II-induced cavernosal dysfunction. KP Nunes, GF Bomfim, HA Toque, T Szasz, RC Webb. Life Sciences, 191, 219-226, 2017.  DOI: 10.1016/j.lfs.2017.10.014


    Toll-like receptor 4 activation contributes to diabetic bladder dysfunction in a murine model of type I diabetes. T Szasz, CF Wenceslau, B Burgues, KP Nunes, RC Webb. Diabetes, 65 (12), 3754-3764, 2016. DOI: 10.2337/db16-0480


    Impaired corpus cavernosum relaxation is accompanied by increased oxidative stress and up-regulation of the Rho-kinase pathway in diabetic (db/db) mice. F Priviero, KP Nunes, CE Teixeira, HF Toque, RC Webb. PLoS ONE, 11 (5), e0156030, 2016. DOI: 10.1371/journal.pone.0156030


    Beneficial Effect of the Soluble Guanylyl Cyclase stimulator BAY 41-2272 on impaired penile erection in db/db-/- Type II diabetic and obese mice. KP Nunes, CE Teixeira, F Priviero, HF Toque, RC Webb. J Pharmacol Exp Ther, 353(2), 330-339, 2015. DOI: 10.1124/jpet.114.220970


    PnPP-19, a synthetic and non-toxic peptide designed from a P. nigriventer toxin, potentiates erectile function via NO/cGMP. CN Silva, KP Nunes, FS Torres, et al. The Journal of Urology, 194 (5), 1481-1490, 2015. DOI: 10.1016/j.juro.2015.06.081


    Therapeutic implications of peptide interaction with G-protein-coupled receptors in diabetes vasculopathy. MA Carrilo-Sepulveda, T Matsumoto, KP Nunes, RC Webb. Acta Physiol, 211(1), 20-35, 2014. DOI: 10.1111/apha.12281


    Arginase 1 mediates increased blood pressure and contributes to vascular endothelial dysfunction in deoxycorticosterone acetate (DOCA)-salt hypertension. HA Toque, KP Nunes, M Rojas, A Bhatta, L Yao, Z Xu, MJ Romero, RC Webb, RB Caldwell, RW Caldwell. Frontiers in Inflammation, 29 (4), 219, 2013. DOI: 10.3389/fimmu.2013.00219


    Activated Rho kinase mediates diabetes-induced elevation of vascular arginase activation and contributes to impaired corpora cavernosa relaxation: possible involvement of p38 MAPK activation. HA Toque, KP Nunes, L Yao, JK Liao, RC Webb, RB Caldwell, RW Caldwell. J Sex Medicine, 10(6), 1502-1515, 2013. DOI: 10.1111/jsm.12134


    Akita spontaneously type 1 diabetic mice exhibit elevated vascular arginase and impaired vascular endothelial and nitrergic function.  HA Toque, KP Nunes, L Yao, Z Xu, D Kondrikov, Y Su, RC Webb, RB Caldwell, RW Caldwell. PLoS One, 8 (8), e72277, 2013. DOI: 10.1371/journal.pone.0072277


    New insights on arthropod toxins that potentiate erectile function. KP Nunes, FS Torres, MH Borges, A Matavel, AM Pimenta, ME De Lima. Toxicon, 69, 152-159, 2013. DOI: 10.1016/j.toxicon.2013.03.017


    Erectile Function Is Improved in Aged Rats by PnTx2-6, a Toxin from Phoneutria nigriventer Spider Venom. KP Nunes, HA Toque, MH Borges, M Richardson, RC Webb, ME de Lima. J Sex Medicine, 9 (10), 2574 – 2581, 2012. DOI: 10.1111/j.1743-6109.2012.02878.x


    New insights into hypertension-associated erectile dysfunction. KP Nunes, H Labazi, RC Webb. Curr Opin Nephrol Hypertens, 21 (2), 163-70. 2012. DOI: 10.1097/MNH.0b013e32835021bd


    Increased cavernosal relaxation by Phoneutria nigriventer toxin, PnTx2-6, via activation at NO/cGMP signaling. KP Nunes, BM Wynne, MN Cordeiro, MH Borges, M Richardson, R Leite, ME De Lima, Webb RC. Int J Impot Res, 24 (2), 69-76, 2012. DOI: 10.1038/ijir.2011.47


    Extracellular signal-regulated kinase (ERK) inhibition decreases arginase activity and improves corpora cavernosal relaxation in streptozotocin (STZ)-induced diabetic mice. KP Nunes, HA Toque, RB Caldwell, RW Caldwell, RC Webb. J Sex Medicine, 8 (12), 3335-3344, 2011. DOI: 10.1111/j.1743-6109.2011.02499.x


    From the stretcher to the pharmacy's shelf: drug leads from medically important Brazilian venomous arachnid species. B Rates, T Verano-Braga, DM Santos, KP Nunes, AM Pimenta, ME De Lima. Inflamm Allergy Drug Targets, 10 (5), 411-419, 2011. DOI: 10.2174/187152811797200614


    Nitric oxide-induced vasorelaxation in response to PnTx2-6 toxin from Phoneutria nigriventer spider in rat cavernosal tissue. KP Nunes, MN Cordeiro, M Richardson, MN Borges, SO Diniz, VN Cardoso, R Tostes, ME De Lima, RC Webb RC, R Leite. J Sex Medicine, 7 (12), 3879-3888, 2010. DOI: 10.1111/j.1743-6109.2010.01978.x


    RhoA/Rho-kinase and vascular diseases: what is the link? KP Nunes, CS Rigsby, RC Webb. Cell Mol Life Sci, 67 (22), 3823-3836, 2010. DOI: 10.1007/s00018-010-0460-1


    Activation of the ET-1/ETA pathway contributes to erectile dysfunction associated with mineralocorticoid hypertension. FS Carneiro, KP Nunes, FR Giachini, VV Lima, ZN Carneiro, EF Nogueira, R Leite, A Ergul, WE Rainey, RC Webb, RC Tostes. J Sex Medicine, 5 (12), 2793-2807, 2008. DOI: 10.1111/j.1743-6109.2008.01009.x


    DOCA-salt treatment enhances responses to endothelin-1 in murine corpus cavernosum. FS Carneiro, FR Giachini, VV Lima, ZN Carneiro, KP Nunes, A Ergul, R Leite, RC Tostes, RC Webb. Can J Physiol Pharmacol, 86 (6), 320-328, 2008. DOI: 10.1139/Y08-031


    Tx2-6 toxin of the Phoneutria nigriventer spider potentiates rat erectile function. KP Nunes, A Costa-Gonçalves, LF Lanza, SF Cortes, MN Cordeiro, M Richardson, AM Pimenta, RC Webb, R Leite, ME De Lima. Toxicon, 51 (7), 1197-1206, 2008. DOI: 10.1016/j.toxicon.2008.02.010


    Targets for the treatment of erectile dysfunction: is NO/cGMP still the answer? R Leite, FR Giachini, FS Carneiro, KP Nunes, RC Tostes, RC Webb. Recent Pat Cardiovasc Drug Discov, 2 (2), 119-132, 2007. DOI: 10.2174/157489007780832579


    Infection with Strongyloides venezuelensis induces transient airway eosinophilic inflammation, an increase in immunoglobulin E, and hyperresponsiveness in rats. MR Silveira, KP Nunes, DC Cara, DG Souza, AJr Corrêa, MM Teixeira, D Negrão-Corrêa. Infect Immun, 70 (11), 6263-6272, 2002. DOI: 10.1128/IAI.70.11.6263-6272.2002

Book Chapters:

  1. De Lima ME, Figueiredo SG, Matavel A, Nunes KP, da Silva NC, Almeida FM, Diniz MRV, Cordeiro MN, Stankiewicz M and Beirao PSL.(2015). Phoneutria nigriventer Venom and Toxins: A Review. In: Spider Venoms. Edited by Springer Science. DOI: 10.1007/978-94-007-6646-4_6_1
  2. Kenia P. Nunes and R. Clinton Webb. (2011) Mechanisms in Erectile Function and Dysfunction: An Overview. In: Erectile Dysfunction - Disease-Associated Mechanisms and Novel Insights into Therapy. Chapter 01, Edited by In Tech Book. DOI: 10.5772/39088
  3. Sandra Crestani, Kenia P. Nunes and R. Clinton Webb. (2011) The Role of Erectile Dysfunction Plays in Cardiovascular Diseases. In: Erectile Dysfunction - Disease-Associated Mechanisms and Novel Insights into Therapy. Chapter 04, Edited by In Tech Book. DOI: 10.5772/39140
  4. Jason E. Davis, Kenia P. Nunes and R. Clinton Webb. Current Perspectives on Pharmacotherapy for the Treatment of Erectile Dysfunction. In: Erectile Dysfunction - Disease-Associated Mechanisms and Novel Insights into Therapy. Chapter 11, Edited by In Tech Book. DOI: 10.5772/39151
  5. Trevor Hardigan, R. Clinton Webb and Kenia P. Nunes. (2011) Gene Stem Cell therapy in Erectile Dysfunction. In: Erectile Dysfunction - Disease-Associated Mechanisms and Novel Insights into Therapy. Chapter 10, Edited by In Tech Book. DOI:10.5772/39052
  6. Nunes KP, Cardoso, F.L., Cardoso Jr, H.C., Pimenta, A.M.C., De Lima, M.E. (2009) Animal toxins as potential pharmacological tools for treatment of erectile dysfunction. In: Animal toxins: State of the art Perspectives in health and biotechnology, vol. 1 (De Lima, M. E., Pimenta, A.M.C., Martin-Eauclaire, M.F., Zingali, R. and Rochat, H., ed), pp 314-322 Belo Horizonte: UFMG Editora.

Recognition & Awards

Ongoing award:

  • 2022- 2025, National Institute of Health- NIDDK- Title: Dual role of HSP70 in diabetes-associated vascular dysfunction ($ 486.000,00).

Past awards:

  • 2018-2019, Florida Space Research Program (NASA). Title: The interplay between cardiovascular disease and space radiation. ($ 50,000.00)
  • 2012- DEZ/2016, Scientific Development Grant (National)- American Heart Association - Title: Toll-like receptor 4 (TLR4) plays an important role in hypertension.    ($ 300.000,00)
  • 2009-2011, Fellowship from American Heart Association (Southeast Affiliate) – Post-Doctoral Fellow
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