Amir H. Rezvani, PhD


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Professor in Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences
Department / Division:
Psychiatry / Addictions
323 Foster St.
Durham, NC 27701
Office Telephone:
(919) 668-1880
  • PhD, University of Illinois -- Urbana-Champaign, 1983
Research Interests:
My research and teaching interests have been primarily focused on the following areas:

Alcoholism: I work with "alcoholic" rats with genetic predisposition!" We use selectively-bred alcohol preferring rats as an animal model of human alcoholism for developing better pharmacological treatments for alcoholism. Recently, we are working on several novel promissing "anti-craving" compounds for the treatment of alcoholism. We are also studing the interaction bewteen alcohol drinking and nicotine intake.

Nicotine Addiction: We have been studying age and sex differences in i.v. nicotine self-administration in rats. We have found that pattern of drug intake is both age- and sex-dependent. Our lab is also exploring different neuronal targets for developing better pharmacologic treatment for nicotine addiction.

Sustained Attention: Another aspect of our research is studying the role of the neuronal nicotinic and other neuronal systems in sustained attention using a rodent model. We have shown, nicotine (not smoking!) and nicotinic compounds improve attention in rats. A majority of people with schizophrenia smoke and they smoke heavily. Thus, it is important to understand the interaction of antipsychotic medications and nicotine in sustained attention. This has been another aspect of our research with interesting results. Presently, we are testing novel nicotinic compounds for improving pharmacologically-impaired sustained attention.

Teaching: I love to teach and interact with students. Since arriving at Duke in 1999, I have been team-teaching the popular alcohol course (Psych 206-01R; Alcohol: Brain, Society and Individual). I also enjoy mentoring undergrad students who are interested in science and enjoy working in the lab with cute little creatures!.

Community: I am a member of the Board of Directors of Triangle Residential Options for Substance Abusers (TROSA), a self-supported therapeutic community in Durham. I also give seminars and workshops on addiction around the country.

Representative Publications:
  • Levin, ED; Cauley, M; Rezvani, AH. Improvement of attentional function with antagonism of nicotinic receptors in female rats. European Journal of Pharmacology. 2013;702:269-274.  Abstract
  • Rezvani, AH; Cauley, M; Xiao, Y; Kellar, KJ; Levin, ED. Effects of chronic sazetidine-A, a selective ¿4ß2 neuronal nicotinic acetylcholine receptors desensitizing agent on pharmacologically-induced impaired attention in rats. Psychopharmacology. 2013;226:35-43.  Abstract
  • Bartley, PC; Rezvani, AH. Alcohol and cognition - consideration of age of initiation, usage patterns and gender: a brief review. Current Drug Abuse Reviews. 2012;5:87-97.  Abstract
  • Hussmann, GP; Turner, JR; Lomazzo, E; Venkatesh, R; Cousins, V; Xiao, Y; Yasuda, RP; Wolfe, BB; Perry, DC; Rezvani, AH; Levin, ED; Blendy, JA; Kellar, KJ. Chronic sazetidine-A at behaviorally active doses does not increase nicotinic cholinergic receptors in rodent brain. The Journal of pharmacology and experimental therapeutics. 2012;343:441-450.  Abstract
  • Johnson, JE; Slade, S; Wells, C; Petro, A; Sexton, H; Rezvani, AH; Brown, ML; Paige, MA; McDowell, BE; Xiao, Y; Kellar, KJ; Levin, ED. Assessing the effects of chronic sazetidine-A delivery on nicotine self-administration in both male and female rats. Psychopharmacology. 2012;222:269-276.  Abstract
  • Rezvani, AH; Cauley, MC; Johnson, EC; Gatto, GJ; Levin, ED. Effects of AZD3480, a neuronal nicotinic acetylcholine receptor agonist, and donepezil on dizocilpine-induced attentional impairment in rats. Psychopharmacology. 2012;223:251-258.  Abstract
  • Rezvani, AH; Lawrence, AJ; Arolfo, MP; Levin, ED; Overstreet, DH. Novel medication targets for the treatment of alcoholism: preclinical studies. Recent Patents on CNS Drug Discovery. 2012;7:151-162.  Abstract
  • Rezvani, AH; Timofeeva, O; Sexton, HG; DeCuir, D; Xiao, Y; Gordon, CJ; Kellar, KJ; Levin, ED. Effects of sazetidine-A, a selective ¿4ß2* nicotinic receptor desensitizing agent, on body temperature regulation in mice and rats. European Journal of Pharmacology. 2012;682:110-117.  Abstract
  • Swartzwelder, NA; Risher, ML; Abdelwahab, SH; D'Abo, A; Rezvani, AH; Levin, ED; Wilson, WA; Swartzwelder, HS; Acheson, SK. Effects of ethanol, ¿(9)-tetrahydrocannabinol, or their combination on object recognition memory and object preference in adolescent and adult male rats. Neuroscience Letters. 2012;527:11-15.  Abstract
  • Cippitelli, A; Rezvani, AH; Robinson, JE; Eisenberg, L; Levin, ED; Bonaventure, P; Motley, ST; Lovenberg, TW; Heilig, M; Thorsell, A. The novel, selective, brain-penetrant neuropeptide Y Y2 receptor antagonist, JNJ-31020028, tested in animal models of alcohol consumption, relapse, and anxiety. Alcohol. 2011;45:567-576.  Abstract
  • Galici, R; Rezvani, AH; Aluisio, L; Lord, B; Levin, ED; Fraser, I; Boggs, J; Welty, N; Shoblock, JR; Motley, ST; Letavic, MA; Carruthers, NI; Dugovic, C; Lovenberg, TW; Bonaventure, P. JNJ-39220675, a novel selective histamine H3 receptor antagonist, reduces the abuse-related effects of alcohol in rats. Psychopharmacology. 2011;214:829-841.  Abstract
  • Levin, ED; Bushnell, PJ; Rezvani, AH. Attention-modulating effects of cognitive enhancers. Pharmacology, Biochemistry and Behavior. 2011;99:146-154.  Abstract
  • Levin, ED; Slade, S; Wells, C; Cauley, M; Petro, A; Vendittelli, A; Johnson, M; Williams, P; Horton, K; Rezvani, AH. Threshold of adulthood for the onset of nicotine self-administration in male and female rats. Behavioural Brain Research. 2011;225:473-481.  Abstract
  • Rezvani, AH; Cauley, M; Sexton, H; Xiao, Y; Brown, ML; Paige, MA; McDowell, BE; Kellar, KJ; Levin, ED. Sazetidine-A, a selective ¿4ß2 nicotinic acetylcholine receptor ligand: effects on dizocilpine and scopolamine-induced attentional impairments in female Sprague-Dawley rats. Psychopharmacology. 2011;215:621-630.  Abstract
  • Levin, ED; Rezvani, AH; Xiao, Y; Slade, S; Cauley, M; Wells, C; Hampton, D; Petro, A; Rose, JE; Brown, ML; Paige, MA; McDowell, BE; Kellar, KJ. Sazetidine-A, a selective alpha4beta2 nicotinic receptor desensitizing agent and partial agonist, reduces nicotine self-administration in rats. The Journal of pharmacology and experimental therapeutics. 2010;332:933-939.  Abstract
  • Rezvani, AH; Sexton, H; Levin, ED. Persistent high alcohol consumption in alcohol-preferring (P) rats results from a lack of normal aversion to alcohol. Alcohol and Alcoholism. 2010;45:219-222.  Abstract
  • Rezvani, AH; Slade, S; Wells, C; Petro, A; Lumeng, L; Li, TK; Xiao, Y; Brown, ML; Paige, MA; McDowell, BE; Rose, JE; Kellar, KJ; Levin, ED. Effects of sazetidine-A, a selective alpha4beta2 nicotinic acetylcholine receptor desensitizing agent on alcohol and nicotine self-administration in selectively bred alcohol-preferring (P) rats. Psychopharmacology. 2010;211:161-174.  Abstract
  • Levin, ED; Petro, A; Rezvani, AH; Pollard, N; Christopher, NC; Strauss, M; Avery, J; Nicholson, J; Rose, JE. Nicotinic alpha7- or beta2-containing receptor knockout: effects on radial-arm maze learning and long-term nicotine consumption in mice. Behavioural Brain Research. 2009;196:207-213.  Abstract
  • Rezvani, AH; Kholdebarin, E; Brucato, FH; Callahan, PM; Lowe, DA; Levin, ED. Effect of R3487/MEM3454, a novel nicotinic alpha7 receptor partial agonist and 5-HT3 antagonist on sustained attention in rats. Progress in Neuro-Psychopharmacology & Biological Psychiatry. 2009;33:269-275.  Abstract
  • Rezvani, AH; Kholdebarin, E; Cauley, MC; Dawson, E; Levin, ED. Attenuation of pharmacologically-induced attentional impairment by methylphenidate in rats. Pharmacology Biochemistry and Behavior. 2009;92:141-146.  Abstract
  • Rezvani, AH; Overstreet, DH; Vaidya, AH; Zhao, B; Levin, ED. Carisbamate, a novel antiepileptic candidate compound, attenuates alcohol intake in alcohol-preferring rats. Alcoholism: Clinical and Experimental Research. 2009;33:1366-1373.  Abstract
  • Tizabi, Y; Getachew, B; Rezvani, AH; Hauser, SR; Overstreet, DH. Antidepressant-like effects of nicotine and reduced nicotinic receptor binding in the Fawn-Hooded rat, an animal model of co-morbid depression and alcoholism. Progress in Neuro-Psychopharmacology & Biological Psychiatry. 2009;33:398-402.  Abstract
  • Levin, ED; Slade, S; Johnson, M; Petro, A; Horton, K; Williams, P; Rezvani, AH; Rose, JE. Ketanserin, a 5-HT2 receptor antagonist, decreases nicotine self-administration in rats. European Journal of Pharmacology. 2008;600:93-97.  Abstract
  • Rezvani, AH; Eddins, D; Slade, S; Hampton, DS; Christopher, NC; Petro, A; Horton, K; Johnson, M; Levin, ED. Neonatal 6-hydroxydopamine lesions of the frontal cortex in rats: persisting effects on locomotor activity, learning and nicotine self-administration. Neuroscience. 2008;154:885-897.  Abstract
  • Rezvani, AH; Kholdebarin, E; Dawson, E; Levin, ED. Nicotine and clozapine effects on attentional performance impaired by the NMDA antagonist dizocilpine in female rats. The international journal of neuropsychopharmacology / official scientific journal of the Collegium Internationale Neuropsychopharmacologicum (CINP). 2008;11:63-70.  Abstract
  • Rezvani, AH; Tizabi, Y; Getachew, B; Hauser, SR; Caldwell, DP; Hunter, C; Levin, ED. Chronic nicotine and dizocilpine effects on nicotinic and NMDA glutamatergic receptor regulation: interactions with clozapine actions and attentional performance in rats. Progress in Neuro-Psychopharmacology & Biological Psychiatry. 2008;32:1030-1040.  Abstract
  • Schramm-Sapyta, NL; Kingsley, MA; Rezvani, AH; Propst, K; Swartzwelder, HS; Kuhn, CM. Early ethanol consumption predicts relapse-like behavior in adolescent male rats. Alcoholism: Clinical and Experimental Research. 2008;32:754-762.  Abstract
  • Levin, ED; Lawrence, SS; Petro, A; Horton, K; Rezvani, AH; Seidler, FJ; Slotkin, TA. Adolescent vs. adult-onset nicotine self-administration in male rats: duration of effect and differential nicotinic receptor correlates. Neurotoxicology and Teratology. 2007;29:458-465.  Abstract
  • Levin, ED; Rezvani, AH. Nicotinic interactions with antipsychotic drugs, models of schizophrenia and impacts on cognitive function. Biochemical Pharmacology. 2007;74:1182-1191.  Abstract
  • Overstreet, DH; Rezvani, AH; Djouma, E; Parsian, A; Lawrence, AJ. Depressive-like behavior and high alcohol drinking co-occur in the FH/WJD rat but appear to be under independent genetic control. Neuroscience & Biobehavioral Reviews. 2007;31:103-114.  Abstract
  • Patra, B; Overstreet, DH; Rezvani, AH; Cleves, M; Parsian, A. Analysis of alcohol-related phenotypes in F2 progeny derived from FH/Wjd and ACI/N rat strains reveals independent measures and sex differences. Behavioural Brain Research. 2007;177:37-44.  Abstract
  • Rezvani, AH; Overstreet, DH; Cleves, M; Parsian, A. Further genetic characterization of the fawn-hooded (FH/Wjd) rat, an animal model of comorbid depression and alcoholism. Psychiatric Genetics. 2007;17:77-83.  Abstract
  • Rezvani, AH; Overstreet, DH; Levin, ED; Rosenthal, DI; Kordik, CP; Reitz, AB; Vaidya, AH. Effects of atypical anxiolytic N-phenyl-2-[1-[3-(2-pyridinylethynyl)benzoyl]-4-piperidine]acetamide (JNJ-5234801) on alcohol intake in alcohol-preferring P rats. Alcoholism: Clinical and Experimental Research. 2007;31:57-63.  Abstract
  • Levin, ED; McClernon, FJ; Rezvani, AH. Nicotinic effects on cognitive function: behavioral characterization, pharmacological specification, and anatomic localization. Psychopharmacology. 2006;184:523-539.  Abstract
  • Levin, ED; Rezvani, AH. Nicotinic-antipsychotic drug interactions and cognitive function. EXS. 2006;98:185-205.  Abstract
  • Overstreet, DH; Rezvani, AH; Cowen, M; Chen, F; Lawrence, AJ. Modulation of high alcohol drinking in the inbred Fawn-Hooded (FH/Wjd) rat strain: implications for treatment. Addiction Biology. 2006;11:356-373.  Abstract
  • Rezvani, AH; Caldwell, DP; Levin, ED. Chronic nicotine interactions with clozapine and risperidone and attentional function in rats. Progress in Neuro-Psychopharmacology & Biological Psychiatry. 2006;30:190-197.  Abstract
  • Barron, S; White, A; Swartzwelder, HS; Bell, RL; Rodd, ZA; Slawecki, CJ; Ehlers, CL; Levin, ED; Rezvani, AH; Spear, LP. Adolescent vulnerabilities to chronic alcohol or nicotine exposure: findings from rodent models. Alcoholism: Clinical and Experimental Research. 2005;29:1720-1725.  Abstract
  • Levin, ED; Tizabi, Y; Rezvani, AH; Caldwell, DP; Petro, A; Getachew, B. Chronic nicotine and dizocilpine effects on regionally specific nicotinic and NMDA glutamate receptor binding. Brain Research. 2005;1041:132-142.  Abstract
  • Rezvani, AH; Caldwell, DP; Levin, ED. Nicotinic-serotonergic drug interactions and attentional performance in rats. Psychopharmacology. 2005;179:521-528.  Abstract
  • Rezvani, AH; Levin, ED. Adolescent and adult rats respond differently to nicotine and alcohol: motor activity and body temperature. International Journal of Developmental Neuroscience. 2004;22:349-354.  Abstract
  • Rezvani, AH; Levin, ED. Nicotine-antipsychotic drug interactions and attentional performance in female rats. European Journal of Pharmacology. 2004;486:175-182.  Abstract
  • Chen, F; Rezvani, AH; Lawrence, AJ. Autoradiographic quantification of neurochemical markers of serotonin, dopamine and opioid systems in rat brain mesolimbic regions following chronic St John's wort treatment. Naunyn-Schmiedeberg's Archives of Pharmacology. 2003;367:126-133.  Abstract
  • Levin, ED; Rezvani, AH; Montoya, D; Rose, JE; Swartzwelder, HS. Adolescent-onset nicotine self-administration modeled in female rats. Psychopharmacology. 2003;169:141-149.  Abstract
  • Overstreet, DH; Keung, WM; Rezvani, AH; Massi, M; Lee, DY. Herbal remedies for alcoholism: promises and possible pitfalls. Alcoholism: Clinical and Experimental Research. 2003;27:177-185.  Abstract
  • Rezvani, AH; Levin, ED. Nicotine-alcohol interactions and attentional performance on an operant visual signal detection task in female rats. Pharmacology Biochemistry and Behavior. 2003;76:75-83.  Abstract
  • Rezvani, AH; Levin, ED. Nicotinic-glutamatergic interactions and attentional performance on an operant visual signal detection task in female rats. European Journal of Pharmacology. 2003;465:83-90.  Abstract
  • Rezvani, AH; Overstreet, DH; Perfumi, M; Massi, M. Plant derivatives in the treatment of alcohol dependency. Pharmacology Biochemistry and Behavior. 2003;75:593-606.  Abstract
  • Levin, ED; Rezvani, AH. Nicotinic treatment for cognitive dysfunction. Current drug targets. CNS and neurological disorders. 2002;1:423-431.  Abstract
  • Rezvani, AH; Bushnell, PJ; Levin, ED. Effects of nicotine and mecamylamine on choice accuracy in an operant visual signal detection task in female rats. Psychopharmacology. 2002;164:369-375.  Abstract
  • Rezvani, AH; Levin, ED. Nicotine-alcohol interactions and cognitive function in rats. Pharmacology Biochemistry and Behavior. 2002;72:865-872.  Abstract
  • Rezvani, AH; Parsian, A; Overstreet, DH. The Fawn-Hooded (FH/Wjd) rat: a genetic animal model of comorbid depression and alcoholism. Psychiatric Genetics. 2002;12:1-16.  Abstract
  • Gordon, CJ; Rezvani, AH. Genetic selection of rats with high and low body temperatures. Journal of Thermal Biology. 2001;26:223-229.  Abstract
  • Rezvani, AH; Bushnell, PJ; Burkholder, JM; Glasgow, HB; Levin, ED. Specificity of cognitive impairment from Pfiesteria piscicida exposure in rats: attention and visual function versus behavioral plasticity. Neurotoxicology and Teratology. 2001;23:609-616.  Abstract
  • Rezvani, AH; Levin, ED. Cognitive effects of nicotine. Biological Psychiatry. 2001;49:258-267.  Abstract
  • Farren, CK; Rezvani, AH; Overstreet, D; O'Malley, S. Combination pharmacotherapy in alcoholism: a novel treatment approach. CNS spectrums. 2000;5:70-76.  Abstract
  • Levin, ED; Mead, T; Rezvani, AH; Rose, JE; Gallivan, C; Gross, R. The nicotinic antagonist mecamylamine preferentially inhibits cocaine vs. food self-administration in rats. Physiology & Behavior. 2000;71:565-570.  Abstract
  • Levin, ED; Rezvani, AH. Development of nicotinic drug therapy for cognitive disorders. European Journal of Pharmacology. 2000;393:141-146.  Abstract
  • Levin, ED; Rezvani, AH; Christopher, NC; Glasgow, HB; Deamer-Melia, NJ; Burkholder, JM; Moser, VC; Jensen, K. Rapid neurobehavioral analysis of Pfiesteria piscicida effects in juvenile and adult rats. Neurotoxicology and Teratology. 2000;22:533-540.  Abstract
  • Rezvani, AH; Overstreet, DH; Mason, GA; Janowsky, DS; Hamedi, M; Clark, E; Yang, Y. Combination pharmacotherapy: a mixture of small doses of naltrexone, fluoxetine, and a thyrotropin-releasing hormone analogue reduces alcohol intake in three strains of alcohol-preferring rats. Alcohol and Alcoholism. 2000;35:76-83.  Abstract
  • Cowen, MS; Rezvani, AH; Jarrott, B; Lawrence, AJ. Ethanol consumption by Fawn-Hooded rats following abstinence: effect of naltrexone and changes in mu-opioid receptor density. Alcoholism: Clinical and Experimental Research. 1999;23:1008-1014.  Abstract
  • Overstreet, DH; Kampov-Polevoy, AB; Rezvani, AH; Braun, C; Bartus, RT; Crews, FT. Suppression of alcohol intake by chronic naloxone treatment in P rats: tolerance development and elevation of opiate receptor binding. Alcoholism: Clinical and Experimental Research. 1999;23:1761-1771.  Abstract
  • Overstreet, DH; Rezvani, AH; Parsian, A. Behavioural features of alcohol-preferring rats: focus on inbred strains. Alcohol and Alcoholism. 1999;34:378-385.  Abstract
  • Rezvani, AH; Overstreet, DH; Yang, Y; Clark, E. Attenuation of alcohol intake by extract of Hypericum perforatum (St. John's Wort) in two different strains of alcohol-preferring rats. Alcohol and Alcoholism. 1999;34:699-705.  Abstract
  • Tizabi, Y; Overstreet, DH; Rezvani, AH; Louis, VA; Clark, E; Janowsky, DS; Kling, MA. Antidepressant effects of nicotine in an animal model of depression. Psychopharmacology. 1999;142:193-199.  Abstract