our logo depicts the chemical
makeup of the neuropeptides
studied in the lab
Spring view of Beaumont Tower at MSU
Spring view of Beaumont Tower at MSU

Meet the Team

Justin Smith
Justin A. Smith

Postdoctoral Researcher

Giltner 221B

phone: 517-355-9562

email: smit2705[at]msu.edu

Research Interests

I am interested in developing a better understanding of the central mechanisms that govern social behavior using circuit-level and molecular techniques. The neuropeptides oxytocin and vasopressin are centrally-acting mediators of communal interactions, but also influence physiological responses to commonly experienced events such as environmental and internal stressors. Pathological states involving social deficits are often accompanied by dysregulated stress responsiveness and anxiety, suggesting that targeting the oxytocin and/or vasopressin systems may lead to viable therapeutics for psychiatric disorders with pronounced social components. Furthermore, as the prevalence of these disorders can be sexually dimorphic, my interests lie in determining sex-specific mechanisms related to oxytocin and vasopressin expression in the brain.

Positions and Education
Since Jan 2017

Postdoctoral researcher in the Neurobiology of Social Behavior Lab, directed by Dr. Alexa Veenema, Michigan State University

Aug 2016 - Dec 2016

Postdoctoral researcher in the Neurobiology of Social Behavior Lab, directed by Dr. Alexa Veenema, Boston College

July 2016

Ph.D. in Pharmaceutical Sciences (Pharmacodynamics), University of Florida, Gainesville, FL. Advisor: Dr. Eric Krause


B.S. in Neuroscience (Neurobiology) with Math minor, University of Cincinnati, Cincinnati, OH.

Selected Publications

Peris J, Macfadyen K, Smith JA, de Kloet AD, Wang L, Krause EG (2016) Oxytocin receptors are expressed on dopamine and glutamate neurons in the mouse ventral tegmental area that project to nucleus accumbens and other mesolimbic targets. Journal of Comparative Neurology Sep 12. [Epub ahead of print].

Wang L, Hiller H, Smith JA, de kloet AD, Krause EG (2016) Angiotensin type 1a receptors in the paraventricular nucleus of the hypothalamus control cardiovascular reactivity and anxiety-like behavior in male mice. Physiological Genomics 48:667-76.

de Kloet AD, Pitra S, Wang L, Hiller H, Pioquinto DJ, Smith JA, Sumners C, Stern JE, Krause EG (2016) Angiotensin type-2 receptors influence the activity of vasopressin neurons in the paraventricular nucleus of the hypothalamus in male mice. Endocrinology 157:3167-80.

Wang L, de Kloet AD, Pati D, Hiller H, Smith JA, Pioquinto DJ, Ludin JA, Oh SP, Katovich MJ, Frazier CJ, Raizada MK, Krause EG (2016) Increasing brain angiotensin converting enzyme 2 activity decreases anxiety-like behavior in male mice by activating central Mas receptors. Neuropharmacology 105:114-23.

de Kloet AD, Wang L, Ludin JA, Smith JA, Pioquinto DJ, Hiller H, Steckelings UM, Scheuer DA, Sumners C, Krause EG (2016) Reporter mouse strain provides a novel look at angiotensin type-2 receptor distribution in central nervous system. Brain Structure and Function 221:891-912.

Smith JA, Wang L, Pati D, de Kloet AD, Frazier CJ, Krause EG (2015) Hydromineral homeostasis and beyond: neuropeptides as mediators of anxiety and stress-responsiveness. Frontiers in Systems Neuroscience 9:46.

Smith JA, Wang L, Hiller H, Taylor CT, de Kloet AD, Krause EG (2014) Acute hypernatremia promotes anxiolysis and attenuates stress-induced activation of the hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal axis in male mice. Physiology and Behavior 136:91-96.

de Kloet AD, Pioquinto DJ, Nguyen D, Wang L, Smith JA, Hiller H, Sumners C (2014) Obesity induces neuroinflammation mediated by altered expression of the renin-angiotensin system in mouse forebrain nuclei. Physiology and Behavior 136:31-38.

Frazier CJ, Pati D, Hiller H, Nguyen D, Wang L, Smith JA, MacFadyen K, de Kloet AD, Krause E G (2013) Acute hypernatremia exerts an inhibitory oxytocinergic tone that is associated with anxiolytic mood in male rats. Endocrinology 154:2457-2467.