Bárbara Rocha graduated from the Faculty of Pharmacy (University of Coimbra, Portugal) in 2007 and concluded her PhD in 2012. Her PhD was conducted at the University of Coimbra, Universidad de La República (Uruguay) and the Karolinska Institute (Sweden). As a PhD candidate she investigated the biochemical interactions of dietary polyphenols (as found in foods) and nitrate (from green leaf vegetables) in the murine and human stomach. She established the proof of concept that phenols promote the non-enzymatic production of nitric oxide (NO) in the gastric environment upon a meal containing green vegetables. Moreover, she demonstrated that upon production in the gastric lumen, NO diffuses towards the gastric mucosa and induces smooth muscle relaxation, likely modulating the rate of gastric emptying. Then, Barbara Rocha studied post-translational modifications of gastric proteins induced by dietary nitrate. She has shown that pepsin (gastric protease) is nitrated and inactivated by dietary nitrate in the stomach in vivo and that nitrated pepsin prevents the development of peptic ulcers. In 2018, Barbara Rocha obtained her Master degree in Medicine (University of Coimbra) and her research acquired a translational and clinical flavour. Currently, Barbara Rocha is studying the impact of dietary nitrate on gut and systemic physiological mechanisms upon antibiotic therapy by modulating gut microbiome profile. Antibiotics induce short- and long-term alterations on gut microbiota compromising gastrointestinal and systemic physiological responses. By rescuing specific gut bacteria, dietary nitrate is proposed to prevent the initial gut dysfunctions (increased epithelial permeability, tight junction derangement, activation of inflammatory pathways, mucus depletion) that lead to local and systemic disease.

Personal identification

Full name
Barbara Rocha

Citation names

  • Rocha, Barbara S
  • Rocha, BS

Author identifiers

Ciência ID
Researcher Id
Scopus Author Id


  • (+351) 239488400 (Professional)


  • Faculty of Pharmacy, University of Coimbra, Polo das Ciências da Saúde, Azinhaga Sta. Comba , 3000-548, Coimbra, Coimbra, Portugal (Professional)

Knowledge fields

  • Medical and Health Sciences - Clinical Medicine - Gastroenterology and hepatology
  • Medical and Health Sciences - Basic Medicine - Physiology
  • Natural sciences - Biological Sciences - Cell Biology
  • Natural sciences - Biological Sciences - Biochemistry


Language Speaking Reading Writing Listening Peer-review
Portuguese (Mother tongue)
English Advanced (C1) Advanced (C1) Advanced (C1) Advanced (C1)
Spanish; Castilian Intermediate (B1) Advanced (C1) Intermediate (B1) Intermediate (B1)
Degree Classification
2012 - 2018
Master in Medicine (Mestrado integrado)
Universidade de Coimbra Faculdade de Medicina, Portugal
2008 - 2012
PhD in Pharmacy (Doutoramento)
Universidade de Coimbra Faculdade de Farmácia, Portugal
2001 - 2007
Bachelor degree (6 years) in Pharmaceutical Sciences (Licenciatura)
Universidade de Coimbra Faculdade de Farmácia, Portugal


Host institution
2013/06/01 - 2018/08/31 Postdoc (Research) Universidade de Coimbra Centro de Neurociências e Biologia Celular, Portugal
2007/01/10 - 2008/09/30 Researcher (Research) Universidade de Coimbra Centro de Neurociências e Biologia Celular, Portugal

Teaching in Higher Education

Host institution
2018/09/01 - Current Assistant Professor (University Teacher) Universidade de Coimbra Faculdade de Farmácia, Portugal


Book chapter
  1. Rocha, Barbara S; Rocha, Nelson Pacheco; Gago, Bruno. "Nanoparticles for Brain Drug Delivery: Translational Challenges". In Nanoparticles for Brain Drug Delivery, 453-463. New York, United States: Taylor & Francis Group, 2021.
  2. Ledo, A.; Rocha, B. S.; Laranjinha, J.. "Bioactive Lipids and the Gut-Brain Axis: Diet as a Modulator of Bioactivity and Diversity of Lipids in the Brain". In Advances in Experimental Medicine and Biology, 147-168. Springer International Publishing, 2019.
Journal article
  1. Laranjinha, João; Nunes, Carla; Ledo, Ana; Lourenço, Cátia; Rocha, Bárbara; Barbosa, Rui M.. "The Peculiar Facets of Nitric Oxide as a Cellular Messenger: From Disease-Associated Signaling to the Regulation of Brain Bioenergetics and Neurovascular Coupling". Neurochemical Research (2020): http://dx.doi.org/10.1007/s11064-020-03015-0.
  2. Rocha, Bárbara S.; Laranjinha, João. "Nitrate from diet might fuel gut microbiota metabolism: Minding the gap between redox signaling and inter-kingdom communication". Free Radical Biology and Medicine 149 (2020): 37-43. http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.freeradbiomed.2020.02.001.
  3. Rocha, Barbara S. "Safety of hospital discharge before return of bowel function after elective colorectal surgery". British Journal of Surgery 107 5 (2020): 552-559. http://dx.doi.org/10.1002/bjs.11422.
  4. Chapman, SJ; Clerc, D; Blanco-Colino, R; Otto, A; Nepogodiev, D; Pagano, G; Schaeff, V; et al. "Safety and efficacy of non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs to reduce ileus after colorectal surgery". British Journal of Surgery (2019): http://dx.doi.org/10.1002/bjs.11326.
  5. Rocha, Bárbara S.; Correia, Mariana G.; Pereira, Anabela; Henriques, Isabel; Da Silva, Gabriela J.; Laranjinha, João. "Inorganic nitrate prevents the loss of tight junction proteins and modulates inflammatory events induced by broad-spectrum antibiotics: A role for intestinal microbiota?". Nitric Oxide 88 (2019): 27-34. http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.niox.2019.04.001.
  6. Rocha, Bárbara S.; Nunes, Carla; Laranjinha, João. "Tuning constitutive and pathological inflammation in the gut via the interaction of dietary nitrate and polyphenols with host microbiome". The International Journal of Biochemistry & Cell Biology 81 (2016): 393-402. http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.biocel.2016.10.021.
  7. Rocha, Bárbara S.; Correia, Mariana G.; Fernandes, Rita C.; Gonçalves, João S.; Laranjinha, João. "Dietary nitrite induces occludin nitration in the stomach". Free Radical Research 50 11 (2016): 1257-1264. http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/10715762.2016.1234049.
  8. Rocha, Bárbara S.; Lundberg, Jon O; Radi, Rafael; Laranjinha, João. "Role of nitrite, urate and pepsin in the gastroprotective effects of saliva". Redox Biology 8 (2016): 407-414. http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.redox.2016.04.002.
  9. Rocha, Bárbara S.; Gago, Bruno; Barbosa, Rui M.; Cavaleiro, Carlos; Laranjinha, João. "Ethyl nitrite is produced in the human stomach from dietary nitrate and ethanol, releasing nitric oxide at physiological pH: potential impact on gastric motility". Free Radical Biology and Medicine 82 (2015): 160-166. http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.freeradbiomed.2015.01.021.
  10. Rocha, Bárbara S.; Nunes, Carla; Pereira, Cassilda; Barbosa, Rui M.; Laranjinha, João. "A shortcut to wide-ranging biological actions of dietary polyphenols: modulation of the nitrate–nitrite–nitric oxide pathway in the gut". Food & Function 5 8 (2014): 1646-1652. http://dx.doi.org/10.1039/c4fo00124a.
  11. Rocha, Bárbara S.; Gago, Bruno; Barbosa, Rui M.; Lundberg, Jon O.; Mann, Giovanni E.; Radi, Rafael; Laranjinha, João. "Pepsin is nitrated in the rat stomach, acquiring antiulcerogenic activity: A novel interaction between dietary nitrate and gut proteins". Free Radical Biology and Medicine 58 (2013): 26-34. http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.freeradbiomed.2012.12.017.
  12. Pereira, Cassilda; Ferreira, Nuno R.; Rocha, Bárbara S.; Barbosa, Rui M.; Laranjinha, João. "The redox interplay between nitrite and nitric oxide: From the gut to the brain". Redox Biology 1 1 (2013): 276-284. http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.redox.2013.04.004.
  13. Rocha, Bárbara S.; Gago, Bruno; Barbosa, Rui M.; Lundberg, Jon O.; Radi, Rafael; Laranjinha, João. "Intragastric nitration by dietary nitrite: Implications for modulation of protein and lipid signaling". Free Radical Biology and Medicine 52 3 (2012): 693-698. http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.freeradbiomed.2011.11.011.
  14. S. Rocha, Barbara; Gago, Bruno; Pereira, Cassilda; M. Barbosa, Rui; Bartesaghi, Silvina; O. Lundberg, Jon; Radi, Rafael; Laranjinha, Joao. "Dietary Nitrite in Nitric Oxide Biology: A Redox Interplay with Implications for Pathophysiology and Therapeutics". Current Drug Targets 12 9 (2011): 1351-1363. http://dx.doi.org/10.2174/138945011796150334.
  15. Rocha, Bárbara S.; Gago, Bruno; Barbosa, Rui M.; Laranjinha, João. "Diffusion of nitric oxide through the gastric wall upon reduction of nitrite by red wine: Physiological impact". Nitric Oxide 22 3 (2010): 235-241. http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.niox.2010.01.003.
  16. Rocha, Bárbara S.; Gago, Bruno; Barbosa, Rui M.; Laranjinha, João. "Dietary polyphenols generate nitric oxide from nitrite in the stomach and induce smooth muscle relaxation". Toxicology 265 1-2 (2009): 41-48. http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.tox.2009.09.008.
  17. Gago, Bruno; Nyström, Thomas; Cavaleiro, Carlos; Rocha, Bárbara S.; Barbosa, Rui M.; Laranjinha, João; Lundberg, Jon O.. "The potent vasodilator ethyl nitrite is formed upon reaction of nitrite and ethanol under gastric conditions". Free Radical Biology and Medicine 45 4 (2008): 404-412. http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.freeradbiomed.2008.04.027.