Kenia Nunes Bruhn

Assistant 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 hypertension, diabetes and especially 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 the use of a spider toxin (PnTx2-6) to treat ED. This research project has been performed in collaboration with scientist in Brazil. In 2009, as a postdoctoral fellow at Georgia Regents University (former Medical College of Georgia), I started to study how the immune system contributes to the development of hypertension and diabetes-associated ED. The role of the immune system in cardiovascular disease is now being investigated by many scientists around the world and my research has been focus on the role of the Toll-like receptor 4 (TLR4) in the vasculature. In 2015 I joined the faculty at FIT and kept my research program working on these two rewarding projects, using animal models to investigate different pathways leading to vascular diseases and new treatment targets.

Professional Experience

  • 07/2015- current: 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, GRU, Medical College of Georgia, Department of Physiology;
  • 02/2009-2012: Postdoctoral Fellow, GRU, Medical College of Georgia, Department of Physiology, ;
  • 02/2004-2008: Associate Professor of Physiology, University President Antonio Carlos, Nursing School, Campus in Conselheiro Lafaiete, Minas Gerais, Brazil.

Current Courses

Vascular Function and Dysfunction

Cardiovascular Mechanisms and Pathways

Human Physiology and Anatomy

Selected Publications

  1. Beneficial Effect of the Soluble Guanylyl Cyclase stimulator BAY 41-2272 on impaired penile erection in db/db-/- Type II diabetic and obese mice.  J Pharmacol Exp Ther, May 2015, 353(2):330-9.
  2. PnPP-19, a synthetic and non-toxic peptide designed from a P. nigriventer toxin, potentiates erectile function via NO/cGMP.  J Urol, Jun 2015. Epub ahead of print.
  3. Therapeutic implications of peptide interaction with G-protein-coupled receptors in diabetes vasculopathy. Acta Physiol, 2014;211(1):20-35.
  4. Arginase 1 mediates increased blood pressure and contributes to vascular endothelial dysfunction in deoxycorticosterone acetate (DOCA)-salt hypertension.  Frontiers in Inflammation, 2013;4:219.
  5. Activated Rho kinase mediates diabetes-induced elevation of vascular arginase activation and contributes to impaired corpora cavernosa relaxation: possible involvement of p38 MAPK activation. J Sex Med, 2013, un;10(6):1502-15.
  6. Akita spontaneously type 1 diabetic mice exhibit elevated vascular arginase and impaired vascular endothelial and nitrergic function.  PLoS One, 2013 Aug 19;8(8), e72277.
  7. New insights on arthropod toxins that potentiate erectile function.  Toxicon, 2013.
  8. Erectile Function Is Improved in Aged Rats by PnTx2-6, a Toxin from Phoneutria nigriventer Spider Venom. J Sex Med. 2012 Oct;9(10):2574-81.
  9. New insights into hypertension-associated erectile dysfunction. Curr Opin Nephrol Hypertens. 2012 Mar;21(2):163-70.
  10. Increased cavernosal relaxation by Phoneutria nigriventer toxin, PnTx2-6, via activation at NO/cGMP signaling. Int J Impot Res. 2012 Mar-Apr;24(2):69-76. doi: 10.1038/ijir.2011.47. Epub 2011 Oct 6.
  11. Extracellular signal-regulated kinase (ERK) inhibition decreases arginase activity and improves corpora cavernosal relaxation in streptozotocin (STZ)-induced diabetic mice. J Sex Med. 2011 Dec;8(12):3335-44.
  12. From the stretcher to the pharmacy's shelf: drug leads from medically important brazilian venomous arachnid species. Inflamm Allergy Drug Targets. 2011 Oct;10(5):411-9. Review.
  13. Nitric oxide-induced vasorelaxation in response to PnTx2-6 toxin from Phoneutria nigriventer spider in rat cavernosal tissue.  J Sex Med. 2010 Dec;7(12):3879-88.
  14. RhoA/Rho-kinase and vascular diseases: what is the link?  Cell Mol Life Sci. 2010 Nov;67(22):3823-36.
  15. Activation of the ET-1/ETA pathway contributes to erectile dysfunction associated with mineralocorticoid hypertension. J Sex Med. 2008 Dec;5(12):2793-807.
  16. DOCA-salt treatment enhances responses to endothelin-1 in murine corpus cavernosum. C Can J Physiol Pharmacol. 2008 Jun;86(6):320-8.
  17. Tx2-6 toxin of the Phoneutria nigriventer spider potentiates rat erectile function. Toxicon. 2008 Jun 1;51(7):1197-206.
  18. Targets for the treatment of erectile dysfunction: is NO/cGMP still the answer? Recent Pat Cardiovasc Drug Discov. 2007 Jun;2(2):119-32. Review.
  19. Infection with Strongyloides venezuelensis induces transient airway eosinophilic inflammation, an increase in immunoglobulin E, and hyperresponsiveness in rats.  Infect Immun. 2002 Nov;70(11):6263-72.

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 Pharmacotheraphy 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 pharmacologycal 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


  • 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)

Past awards:

  • 2009-2011, Fellowship from American Heart Association (Southeast Affiliate) – Post Doctoral Fellow


  • The role of TLR4 in vascular diseases (Hypertension and diabetes-associated ED);
  • Spider Toxin (PnTx2-6) as a pharmacological tool to treat ED.