Dr Catarina Rendeiro Msc, PhD

Dr Catarina Rendeiro

School of Sport, Exercise and Rehabilitation Sciences
Lecturer in Nutritional Sciences

Contact details

School of Sport, Exercise and Rehabilitation Sciences
University of Birmingham
B15 2TT

Dr Catarina Rendeiro is a nutritional scientist with an interest in linking molecular, physiological, and cognitive outcomes in response to nutritional interventions. Her research interests include understanding the mechanisms by which plant-derived compounds (particularly flavonoids) and physical exercise can improve both peripheral vascular function and cerebrovascular brain health.


  • M.Sc. and B.Sc. Degree in Biological Engineering, 2007 , Technical University of  Lisbon, Portugal (Instituto Superior Técnico)
  • PhD, Doctor of Philosophy, 2011, University of Reading, UK 
  • Postgraduate Certificate in Higher Education, 2020, University of Birmingham


Dr Catarina Rendeiro completed her PhD at the University of Reading (UK) in collaboration with the department of Psychology and the department of  Food and Nutritional Sciences:  she investigated the molecular mechanisms underpinning improvements in hippocampus-dependent learning and memory by plant-derived dietary flavonoids.  Catarina subsequently worked as a postdoctoral research assistant in clinical research at the Hugh Sinclair Nutrition Unit (University of Reading, UK) investigating the impact of flavonoid intake on human vascular function and cardiometabolic risk factors.

Catarina then moved to the USA to take on a senior postdoctoral position at the Beckman Institute for Advanced Science and Technology  at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign where she collaborated widely as part of the Center for Nutrition, Learning and Memory, looking at the role of micronutrients  and macronutrients (e.g. vitamin E, omega-3-fatty acids, flavonoids, sugars) on neuronal plasticity, cerebral blood perfusion and  learning  behavior in a variety of rodent models, from neonatal development through aging and chemotherapy-treated (“Chemobrain”).  During her time at the Beckman Institute, Catarina further developed an interest in understanding the mechanisms by which physical exercise impacts brain health and particularly, the hippocampus, a structure of the brain where learning takes place.

Since joining the University of Birmingham in 2017, Catarina has expanded on the understanding on how dietary flavonoids can affect cerebrovascular function in humans. She has also further explored how flavonoid interventions can be utilized strategically in the context of physical activity and sedentary periods to ameliorate whole-body vascular function. Catarina is also interested in understanding how diet may interact with mental stress in regard to their effects on vascular health.


  • Introduction to Sports Science (1st year)
  • Sports Nutrition (2nd year)
  • Metabolic Perspectives in Exercise and Nutrition (3rd year)

Postgraduate supervision

  • Alessio Daniele (PhD)
  • Rosalind Bayham (PhD)
  • Sophie Richardson (PhD)
  • Samuel Weaver (PhD)
  • Bethany Skinner (PhD)
  • Maree Margolis (MRes)

Catarina welcomes postgraduate applications from self-funding UK, European, and overseas students for projects related to her research interests. If students are interested in doing a PhD and have identified a relevant scholarship, Catarina is happy work with the student on submitting a proposal. Students that are interested in doing short-term placements at the University of Birmingham to work with Catarina get in contact with her by email.


Catarina’s research objectives are: 

  1. Establish mechanistic links between peripheral and cerebrovascular responses to dietary components, particularly plant-derived flavonoids 
  2. Investigate the role of dietary flavonoids in affecting peripheral and cerebrovascular responses to physical activity and also physical inactivity 
  3. Understand how diet can affect vascular responses to mental stress 

The ultimate goal of Catarina’s research is to establish effective lifestyle strategies that include both exercise and diet to improve peripheral vascular function, cerebrovascular function and mental health across different populations and throughout the lifespan.

Other activities

  • Organizing Committee for upcoming International Conference in Polyphenols and Health (ICPH), 2022, London, UK
  • Guest Editor of Special issue on ‘The Impact of Polyphenols on Brain Health for Brain Plasticity. 2020: doi: 10.3233/BPL-209002.
  • Editorial Board for the journal ‘Nutrition and Healthy Ageing’
  • Member of the Scientific Review Panel for European Space Agency (ESA)
  • Reviewer for Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council (BBSRC)
  • Member of the Centre for Human Brain Health (CHBH) at University of Birmingham and co-leader of the sub-committee for management of the fNIRS imaging system at CHBH
  • STEM Ethics Committee, University of Birmingham
  • Review Editor at ‘Frontiers in Nutrition’
  • Leader of Seminar Series for School of Sport, Exercise and Rehabilitation (2017-2020)


  1. Top 10 most downloaded papers in 2020 in Neuroscience in Scientific Reports (amongst over 1750 papers published by the journal) for the manuscript: https://www.nature.com/articles/s41598-020-76160-9
  2. Two Poster Prizes at International Conference for Polyphenols and Health (ICPH), Kobe, Japan (2019)
  3. Times Higher Education Award for Research Project of the Year (2010).
  4. Postgraduate competition, Nutrition Society Meeting (2011).
  5. Thought For Food Challenge, Syngenta-sponsored EU competition (2011).


Baynham, R., Veldhuijzen van Zanten, Jet J.C.S., Johns, Paul W., Pham, Quang S., and Rendeiro, C. (2021). Cocoa Flavanols Improve Vascular Responses to Acute Mental Stress in Young Healthy Adults. Nutrients, 13(4), 1103.

Weaver, S.R., Skinner, B.D., Furlong, R., Lucas, R.A.I., Cable, N.T., Rendeiro, C., McGettrick, H.M., Lucas, S.J.E. (2021). Cerebral Hemodynamic and Neurotrophic Factor Responses Are Dependent on the Type of Exercise. Frontiers in Physiology. https://doi.org/10.3389/fphys.2020.609935 

Rendeiro, C. (2020). Food for Thought: The Impact of Polyphenols on Brain Health. Brain Plast. 6(2):137-138.

Gratton, G., Weaver, S.R., Burley, C.V., Low, K.A., Maclin, E.L., Johns, P., Pham, Q., Lucas, S.J.E., Fabiani, M., Rendeiro, C. (2020). Dietary flavanols improve cerebral cortical oxygenation and cognition in healthy adults. Scientific Reports, 10, 19409. 

Gardner, J.C., Dvoretskiy, S., Yang, Y., Venkataraman, S., Lange, D.A., Li, S., Boppart, A.L., Kim, N., Rendeiro, C., Boppart, M.D., Rhodes, J.S. (2020) Electrically stimulated hind limb muscle contractions increase adult hippocampal astrogliogenesis but not neurogenesis or behavioral performance in male C57BL/6J mice. Scientific Reports, 10, 19319. 

Rhodes JS, Rendeiro C, Mun JG, Du K, Thaman P, Snyder A, Pinardo H, Drnevich J, Chandrasekaran S, Lai C, Schimpf KJ, Kuchan MJ. (2020).Brain α-tocopherol concentration and stereoisomer profile alter hippocampal gene expression in weanling mice. Journal of Nutrition, 150,12, 3075-3085. 

Weaver, S.R., Rendeiro, C., McGettrick, H.M., Philp, A., Lucas, S.J.E. (2020). Fine Wine or Sour Grapes? A systematic review and meta-analysis of the impact of red wine polyphenols on vascular health. European Journal of Nutrition. https://doi.org/10.1007/s00394-020-02247-8 

Du K, Markus E, Fecych M, Beverly L, Rhodes JS, Rendeiro, C. (2019). Metabolic consequences of egg white versus wheat gluten protein consumption in a rodent model. J Nutr Food Sci, Vol. 9 Iss. 3 No: 761. 

Rendeiro C., Rhodes JS. (2018). A new perspective of the hippocampus in the origin of brain-exercise interactions. Brain Struct Funct. 223(6):2527-2545. 

Huntsman HD, Rendeiro C, Merritt JR, Pincu Y, Cobert A, De Lisio M, Kolyvas E, Dvoretskiy S, Dobrucki IT, Kemkemer R, Jensen T, Dobrucki LW, Rhodes JS, Boppart MD. (2018). The impact of mechanically stimulated muscle-derived stromal cells on aged skeletal muscle. Exp Gerontol 103: 35-46. 

Esteban Fernandez A, Rendeiro C, Spencer JPE, Gijorro del Oso D, González de Llano Dolores, Bartolome B; Moreno-Arribas MV. (2017). Neuroprotective effects of selected microbial-derived phenolic metabolites and aroma compounds from wine in human SH-SY5Y neuroblastoma cells, and their putative mechanisms of action. Front Nutr 14; 4:3. 

Rendeiro C, Dong H, Saunders C, Blaze M, Hou Y, Belanger RL, Corona G, Lovegrove JA, Spencer JPE. (2016). Flavanone-rich citrus beverages counteract the transient decline in postprandial endothelial function in humans: a randomized, controlled, double-masked, crossover intervention study. British Journal of Nutrition. 116 (12): 1999-2010. 

Perez SD, Du K, Rendeiro C, Wang L, Wu Q, Rubakhin SS, Vazhappilly R, Baxter JH, Sweedler JV, Rhodes JS. (2016). A unique combination of nutrients rejuvenates cognitive performance in aged mice. Behav Brain Res. 320: 97-112. 

Rendeiro C, Sheriff A, Bhattacharya TK, Gogola JV, Baxter JH, Chen H, Helferich WG, Roy EJ, Rhodes JS. (2016). Long-lasting impairments in adult neurogenesis, spatial learning and memory from a standard chemotherapy regimen used to treat breast cancer. Behav Brain Res 315: 10-22. 

Dong H, Rendeiro C, Kristek A, Sargent LJ, Saunders C, Harkness L, Rowland I, Jackson KJ, Spencer JPE, Lovegrove JA. (2016). Addition of orange pomace to orange juice attenuates the increases in peak glucose and insulin concentration after sequential meal ingestion in men with elevated cardiovascular risk. J Nutr.146 (6): 1197-203.  

Rendeiro C, Rhodes JS, Spencer JPE. (2015). The mechanisms of action of flavonoids in the brain: direct versus indirect effects. Neurochem Int. 89:126-39. 

Rendeiro C, Masnik AM, Mun JG, Du K, Clark D, Dilger RN, Dilger AC, Rhodes JS. (2015). Fructose decreases physical activity and increases body fat without affecting hippocampal neurogenesis and learning relative to an isocaloric glucose diet. Sci.Rep. 5: 9589. 

Meireles M, Marques C, Norberto S, Fernandes I, Mateus N, Rendeiro C, Spencer JPE, Faria A, Calhau C. (2015). The impact of chronic blackberry intake on the neuroinflammatory status of rats fed a standard or high-fat diet. J Nutr Biochem. 26(11):1166-73. 

Rendeiro C, Foley A, Ring R, Lau V, Vauzour D, Regan C, Williams CM and Spencer JPE. (2013). A role for hippocampal PSA-NCAM and NMDA-NR2B receptor function in flavonoid-induced spatial memory improvements in young rats. Neuropharmacology. 79: 335-344. 

Rendeiro C, Williams CM, Vauzour D, Rattray M, Butler LT, Wafo-Téguo P, Mérillon JM, and Spencer JPE. (2013). Pure flavonoids mediate improvements in spatial memory and increases in hippocampal brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF). PLoS One. 28;8(5):e63535. 

Rodriguez-Mateos A, Rendeiro C, Bergillos-Meca T, Tabatabaee S, George TW, Heiss C, Spencer JPE. (2013). Intake and time dependence of blueberry flavonoid-induced improvements in vascular function: a randomized, controlled, double-blind, crossover intervention study with mechanistic insights into biological activity. Am J Clin Nutr. 98: 1179-91. 

Rendeiro C, Vauzour D, Kean RJ, Ellis JA, Butler LT, Rattray M, Spencer JPE and Williams CM. (2012). Blueberry-supplementation induces spatial memory improvements and region-specific regulation of hippocampal BDNF mRNA expression in young animals. Psychopharmacology (Berl) 223(3): 319-330. 

Rendeiro C, Guerreiro JDT, Williams CM and Spencer JPE (2012). Flavonoids as modulators of memory and learning: molecular interactions resulting in behavioural effects. Proc Nutr Soc 71(2): 246-262. 

Vauzour D, Vafeiadou K, Rendeiro C, Corona G and Spencer JPE (2010). The inhibitory effects of berry-derived flavonoids against neurodegenerative processes. Journal of Berry Research 1–8. 

Rendeiro C, Spencer JP, Vauzour D, Butler LT, Ellis JA, Williams CM. (2009). The impact of flavonoids on spatial memory in rodents: from behaviour to underlying hippocampal mechanisms. Genes Nutr.   4(4): 251–270. 

Spencer JPE, Vauzour D, Rendeiro C. (2009). Flavonoids and cognition: the molecular mechanisms underlying their behavioural effects. Arch Biochem Biophys. 492(1-2):1-9. 

Williams CM, El Mohsen MA, Vauzour D, Rendeiro C, Butler LT, Ellis JA, Whiteman M, Spencer JPE. (2008). Blueberry-induced changes in spatial working memory correlate with changes in hippocampal CREB phosphorylation and brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF) levels. Free Radic Biol Med. 45(3):295-305. 

Vauzour D, Vafeiadou K, Rodriguez-Mateos A, Rendeiro C, Spencer JPE (2008). The neuroprotective potential of flavonoids: a multiplicity of effects. Genes Nutr. 3(3-4):115-26. 

Book Chapters:

Rendeiro, C., Rhodes, J. ‘Dietary flavonoids and brain health in aging: food for thought’ in "Factors Affecting Neurological Aging”, in press 

Burley, CV., Mullinger, KJ., Thomas, Kate N., Rendeiro, C., Dehghani, H, Lucas, S.J.E.. ‘Imaging Cerebral Blood Flow for Brain Health Measurement’ in “Encyclopedia of Behavioural Neuroscience, 2nd Edition”, in press

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