General Research InterestPathobiology of symptoms of cancer and cancer-treatment
Research DescriptionOur work focuses on the role of pro-inflammatory cytokines in the symptoms of cancer cachexia, particularly fatigue and reduced effort tolerance. We use a mouse model of tumor-induced skeletal muscle wasting , and examine the effects of anti-inflammatory drugs and dietary additives on muscle mass and voluntary wheel running of the tumor-bearing mice.
Transinstitutional WorkThe patho-biology of symptoms of cancer cachexia, especially fatigue and skeletal muscle wasting, are caused in great part by pro-inflammatory cytokines produced by the tumor or by the host’s own tissues in response to tumor growth. Our research seeks to find ways to modulate the production or the effects of these cytokines in a mouse model of cancer cachexia. Studies to examine the effects of fatty acid supplements with anti-inflammatory or anabolic effects on muscle metabolism in tumor-bearing mice are conducted in collaboration with Dr. Martha Belury (Department of Human Nutrition, College of Education and Human Ecology). We also collaborating with Dr. Jonathan Godbout (Department of Molecular Virology, Immunology, and Medical Genetics, College of Medicine) to study the contribution of anhedonia, a symptom of depression which is also mediated in great part by pro-inflammatory cytokines, in the progressive decline in physical activity of the tumor-bearing mice. Other collaborators include Dr. Denis Guttridge (Department of Molecular Virology, Immunology & Medical Genetics, College of Medicine) who studies the function and mechanisms by which pro-inflammatory transcription factors regulate muscle differentiation and turnover associated with muscle disorders, and Dr. Peter Reiser (Division of Oral Biology, College of Dentistry) who studies molecular domains of myosin subunits related to muscle contractile properties. This exceptional multidisciplinary team gives us a broad expertise to understand the effects of pro-inflammatory cytokines on muscle metabolism and the onset of fatigue and muscle wasting in patients with cancer cachexia, which should lead to development and testing of interventions to reduce these symptoms in cancer survivors.