Lauren Aleksunes Pharm.D., Ph.D., D.A.B.T.Associate Professor Rutgers University – Ernest Mario School of PharmacyEOHSI – Toxicology
Dr. Aleksunes is an Associate Professor in the Rutgers University, Ernest Mario School of Pharmacy, Department of Pharmacology and Toxicology, and the Joint Graduate Program in Toxicology.
The ATP-binding cassette transporters (ABC) are members of a superfamily of transporters found in the plasma membrane. ABC transporters function as efflux pumps that remove chemicals from the cell. As a result, transporters limit the cellular accumulation of drugs and toxicants. Our laboratory studies members of three families of efflux transporters: ABCB1 (Multidrug resistance protein 1, MDR1, P-glycoprotein), ABCC1-6 (Multidrug resistance-associated proteins, MRP), and ABCG2 (Breast cancer resistance protein, BCRP). These transporters are important in removing chemicals from the liver and kidneys and can protect against target organ toxicity. Similarly, these efflux pumps are expressed in the placenta and participate in maternal-fetal xenobiotic disposition, thereby protecting the developing fetus from toxicant exposure.
Dr. Aleksunes’ laboratory investigates how drug transporters in the liver, kidneys, brain, and placenta protect against the accumulation and toxicity of pharmaceuticals and environmental chemicals. Her studies aim to 1) characterize substrates and inhibitors for efflux transporters, 2) determine how genetic variants influence transporter function, and 3) understand the regulatory mechanisms that control expression of transporters. Dr. Aleksunes’ laboratory utilizes molecular biology, cell biology, in vivo transgenic animal, explant human tissue, biomarkers of toxicity, and pharmacokinetic approaches to study the interplay of drug transport and toxicology. The Aleksunes laboratory is funded by NIH R01ES021800, R01ES020522, R21DK093903, F31HD082965, PhRMA and AFPE.
The Aleksunes laboratory includes research and clinical scientists (Xia Wen), graduate students (Blessy George, Dahea You, John Szilagyi, Rachel Ritzau and Ludwik Gorczyca), Maternal-Fetal Medicine fellows (Lupe Garcia), and undergraduate students (Fatimah Mosaad, Josh Kancylarz).
- Identification of pharmacogenetic risk factors and biomarkers for cisplatin-induced nephrotoxicity in humans.
- Investigation of enterohepatic bile acid signaling and homeostasis during pregnancy.
- Characterization of environmental chemicals as substrates and inhibitors of human placental efflux transporters.
- Elucidation of regulatory mechanisms controlling transporter expression in the placenta.
- Characterization of cell-cell communication between microglia and brain endothelial cells.
- Identification of transporters in the blood-brain barrier that regulate exposure to pesticides.
- Director of the Joint Graduate Program in Toxicology – http://jgpt.rutgers.edu
- Recipient of pilot project and career development grant funding from the NIEHS Center for Environmental Exposures and Disease and the Busch Biomedical Grant Program.
- Program Director of the ASPET Summer Research Fellowship Program at Rutgers University, Ernest Mario School of Pharmacy.
- Organizing Committee for Pharmacy Research Day at Rutgers University, Ernest Mario School of Pharmacy. https://pharm.rutgers.edu/content/pharmacy_research_day
- Member and Chair (2015-2016) of the Steering Committee for the New Jersey Drug Metabolism Discussion Group. http://njacs.org/drugmet.html
- Aleksunes published an extensive review of drug transporter function and regulation in Pharmacological Reviews (2010) 62:1-96. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/20103563
- Elected to the Drug Transport Focus Group of American Association of Pharmaceutical Scientists.
In the News
- Aleksunes was awarded the 2016 Achievement Award from the Society of Toxicology http://toxchange.toxicology.org/p/bl/et/blogid=0&blogaid=1748&source=6
- In 2015, Dr. Aleksunes was awarded the Mentor of the Year from AFPE, a Global Scientific Achievement Award from Xenotech and the Tradition of Excellence Award from the UConn Pharmacy Alumni Association.
- At the 2016 MidAtlantic Society of Toxicology meeting, Diana You, PharmD and John Szilagyi won 1st and 2nd place, respectively, in the poster competition. John Szilagyi also received the Student Achievement Award.
- Lue Garcia, MD, was honored with 2nd Place in the NJ Maternal-Fetal Medicine Meeting in 2016.
- Blessy George, PharmD, received the Graduate Student Achievement Award from the Biotechnology Specialty Section of the Society of Toxicology in 2016.
- Ludwik Gorczyca was awarded the Sheldon D Murphy Award from the Mechanisms Specialty Section of the Society of Toxicology in 2016.
- Aleksunes became a Diplomate of the American Board of Toxicology in 2012.
- NIEHS announced the 2012 Outstanding New Environmental Scientists awardees, including Dr. Aleksunes.
- Francois, LN, Gorczyca, L, Du, J, Bircsak, KM, Yen, E, Wen, X, Tu, MJ, Yu, AM, Illsley, NP, Zamudio, S et al.. Down-regulation of the placental BCRP/ABCG2 transporter in response to hypoxia signaling. Placenta. 2017;51 :57-63. doi: 10.1016/j.placenta.2017.01.125. PubMed PMID:28292469 PubMed Central PMC5354084
- George, B, You, D, Joy, MS, Aleksunes, LM. Xenobiotic transporters and kidney injury. Adv. Drug Deliv. Rev. 2017; :. doi: 10.1016/j.addr.2017.01.005. PubMed PMID:28111348
- Moscovitz, JE, Yarmush, G, Herrera-Garcia, G, Guo, GL, Aleksunes, LM. Differential regulation of intestinal efflux transporters by pregnancy in mice. Xenobiotica. 2017; :1-9. doi: 10.1080/00498254.2016.1250292. PubMed PMID:28043194
- Lin, Y, Bircsak, KM, Gorczyca, L, Wen, X, Aleksunes, LM. Regulation of the placental BCRP transporter by PPAR gamma. J. Biochem. Mol. Toxicol. 2016; :. doi: 10.1002/jbt.21880. PubMed PMID:27879033
- Bright, AS, Herrera-Garcia, G, Moscovitz, JE, You, D, Guo, GL, Aleksunes, LM. Regulation of Drug Disposition Gene Expression in Pregnant Mice with Car Receptor Activation. Nucl Receptor Res. 2016;3 :. doi: 10.11131/2016/101193. PubMed PMID:27818994 PubMed Central PMC5090256
- Moscovitz, JE, Kong, B, Buckley, K, Buckley, B, Guo, GL, Aleksunes, LM. Restoration of enterohepatic bile acid pathways in pregnant mice following short term activation of Fxr by GW4064. Toxicol. Appl. Pharmacol. 2016;310 :60-67. doi: 10.1016/j.taap.2016.08.021. PubMed PMID:27609522 PubMed Central PMC5064858
- Atilano-Roque, A, Aleksunes, LM, Joy, MS. Bardoxolone methyl modulates efflux transporter and detoxifying enzyme expression in cisplatin-induced kidney cell injury. Toxicol. Lett. 2016;259 :52-9. doi: 10.1016/j.toxlet.2016.07.021. PubMed PMID:27480280