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Rita Castro
Research Assistant Professor
Summary Statement

My research interest’s concerns nutritional and genetic determinants of hyperhomocysteinemia, and the molecular mechanisms through which hyperhomocysteinemia causes hypomethylation, endothelial dysfunction, and vascular disease. 

  • Nutritional Sciences - NUTR
  • PhD (2004) in Pharmacy (Biochemistry), University of Lisbon, Portugal
Office Address
202B Chandlee Laboratory
University Park, PA 16802
Professional Credentials


  • One-carbon and vitamin B12 metabolism
  • Genetic and non-genetic determinants of hyperhomocysteinemia
  • Hyperhomocysteinemia / endothelial dysfunction / vascular disease     
  • Inborn errors of metabolism - biochemical and molecular basis
  • Nutrition and atherosclerosis
  • Endothelial homeostasis and dysfunction 
  • Epigenetic mechanisms
  • S-Adenosylhomocysteine and cell methylation index
Professional Experience
  • Nov 2017 - present: Research Assistant Professor, Nutritional Sciences, Pen State University, USA
  • Feb 2009 – present: Assistant Professor with tenure, Faculty of Pharmacy, University of Lisbon, Portugal  (FFUL)   
  • July 2004 – Feb 2009: Assistant Professor, FFUL
  • Jun 1995 – July 2004: Teaching Professor, FFUL
  • Feb 1991 – Jun 1995: Teaching Assistant, FFUL


Grants and Research Projects
  • Mechanisms underlying the interplay homocysteinemia / vascular disease.
  • Vitamin B12 and homocysteine metabolism, and epigenetics.
  • Nutrition, hypomethylating stress and atherosclerosis.
  • Barroso M, Kao D, Blom HJ, Tavares de Almeida I, Castro R, Loscalzo J, Handy DE. S-adenosylhomocysteine induces inflammation through NFkB: A possible role for EZH2 in endothelial cell activation. Biochim Biophys Acta 2016;1862:82-92.

  • Barroso M, Florindo F, Kalwa H, Silva Z, Turanov AA, Carlson BA, Tavares de Almeida I, Blom HJ, Gladyshev VN, Hatfield DL, Michel T, Castro R, Loscalzo J, Handy DE. Inhibition of cellular methyltransferases promotes endothelial cell activation by suppressing glutathione peroxidase-1 expression. J Biol Chem 2014;289:15350-62.

  • Esse R, Imbard A, Florindo C, Gupta S, Quinlivan EP, Davids M, Teerlink T, Tavares de Almeida I, Kruger WD, Blom HJ, Castro R. Protein arginine hypomethylation in a mouse model of cystathionine ß-synthase deficiency. FASEB J 2014;28:2686-95.

  • Esse R, Florindo C, Imbard A, Rocha MS, de Vriese AS, Smulders YM, Teerlink T, Tavares de Almeida I, Castro R, Blom HJ. Global protein and histone arginine methylation are affected in a tissue-specific manner in a rat model of diet-induced hyperhomocysteinemia. Biochim Biophys Acta. 2013;1832(10):1708-14.

  • Rocha MS, Teerlink T, Janssen MC, Kluijtmans LA, Smulders Y, Jakobs C, Tavares de Almeida I, Rivera I, Castro R, Blom HJ. Asymmetric dimethylarginine in adults with cystathionine β-synthase deficiency. Atherosclerosis. 2012;222(2):509-11.

  • Handy DE, Castro R, Loscalzo J. Epigenetic modifications: basic mechanisms and role in cardiovascular disease. Circulation 2011; 123: 2145-56.

  • Barroso M, Rocha MS, Esse R, Gonçalves I Jr, Gomes AQ, Teerlink T, Jakobs C, Blom HJ, Loscalzo J, Rivera I, de Almeida IT, Castro R. Cellular hypomethylation is associated with impaired nitric oxide production by cultured human endothelial cells. Amino Acids. 2012;42(5):1903-11.

  • Castro R, Rivera I, Blom HJ, Jakobs C, Tavares de Almeida I. Homocysteine metabolism, hyperhomocysteinaemia and vascular disease: an overview. J Inherit Metab Dis. 2006;29(1):3-20.

  • Castro R, Rivera I, Ravasco P, Camilo ME, Jakobs C, Blom HJ, de Almeida IT. 5,10-methylenetetrahydrofolate reductase (MTHFR) 677C>T and 1298A>C mutations are associated with DNA hypomethylation. J Med Genet. 2004;41(6):454-8.

  • Castro R, Rivera I, Struys EA, Jansen EE, Ravasco P, Camilo ME, Blom HJ, Jakobs C, Tavares de Almeida I. Increased homocysteine and S-adenosylhomocysteine concentrations and DNA hypomethylation in vascular disease. Clin Chem. 2003;49(8):1292-6.

Additional Information

Courses Taught

  • NUTR 446 -  Micronutrient Metabolism