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Lauren Aleksunes Pharm.D., Ph.D., D.A.B.T. » EOHSI Directory


Lauren Aleksunes Pharm.D., Ph.D., D.A.B.T.

Associate Professor Rutgers University – Ernest Mario School of PharmacyEOHSI – Toxicology
Work EOHSI Room 426 (Labs: Rooms 439, 434, 430, and 429) 170 Frelinghuysen Rd Piscataway New Jersey 08854 Work Phone: 848-445-5518 (office) Work Phone: 848-445-0187 (lab)
Photo of Lauren Aleksunes Pharm.D., Ph.D., D.A.B.T.

Biographical Info

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.

Research Areas

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.


Research Highlights

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.


Scholarly Activities

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.

Recent Publications

  1. You, D, Wen, X, Gorczyca, L, Morris, A, Richardson, JR, Aleksunes, LM. Increased MDR1 Transporter Expression in Human Brain Endothelial Cells Through Enhanced Histone Acetylation and Activation of Aryl Hydrocarbon Receptor Signaling. Mol. Neurobiol. 2019; :. doi: 10.1007/s12035-019-1565-7. PubMed PMID:30963442
  2. Russo, DP, Strickland, J, Karmaus, AL, Wang, W, Shende, S, Hartung, T, Aleksunes, LM, Zhu, H. Nonanimal Models for Acute Toxicity Evaluations: Applying Data-Driven Profiling and Read-Across. Environ. Health Perspect. 2019;127 (4):47001. doi: 10.1289/EHP3614. PubMed PMID:30933541
  3. You, D, Shin, HM, Mosaad, F, Richardson, JR, Aleksunes, LM. Brain region-specific regulation of histone acetylation and efflux transporters in mice. J. Biochem. Mol. Toxicol. 2019; :e22318. doi: 10.1002/jbt.22318. PubMed PMID:30897286
  4. Wen, X, Baker, AA, Klaassen, CD, Corton, JC, Richardson, JR, Aleksunes, LM. Hepatic carboxylesterases are differentially regulated in PPARα-null mice treated with perfluorooctanoic acid. Toxicology. 2019;416 :15-22. doi: 10.1016/j.tox.2019.01.014. PubMed PMID:30685356 PubMed Central PMC6397673
  5. Szilagyi, JT, Composto-Wahler, GM, Joseph, LB, Wang, B, Rosen, T, Laskin, JD, Aleksunes, LM. Anandamide down-regulates placental transporter expression through CB2 receptor-mediated inhibition of cAMP synthesis. Pharmacol. Res. 2019;141 :331-342. doi: 10.1016/j.phrs.2019.01.002. PubMed PMID:30610963 PubMed Central PMC6391190
  6. Szilagyi, JT, Gorczyca, L, Brinker, A, Buckley, B, Laskin, JD, Aleksunes, LM. Placental BCRP/ABCG2 Transporter Prevents Fetal Exposure to the Estrogenic Mycotoxin Zearalenone. Toxicol. Sci. 2019;168 (2):394-404. doi: 10.1093/toxsci/kfy303. PubMed PMID:30576553 PubMed Central PMC6432861
  7. Szilagyi, JT, Fussell, KC, Wang, Y, Jan, YH, Mishin, V, Richardson, JR, Heck, DE, Yang, S, Aleksunes, LM, Laskin, DL et al.. Quinone and nitrofurantoin redox cycling by recombinant cytochrome b5 reductase. Toxicol. Appl. Pharmacol. 2018;359 :102-107. doi: 10.1016/j.taap.2018.09.011. PubMed PMID:30222979
  8. Ibrahim, ME, Chang, C, Hu, Y, Hogan, SL, Mercke, N, Gomez, M, O'Bryant, CL, Bowles, DW, George, B, Wen, X et al.. Pharmacokinetic determinants of cisplatin-induced subclinical kidney injury in oncology patients. Eur. J. Clin. Pharmacol. 2019;75 (1):51-57. doi: 10.1007/s00228-018-2552-z. PubMed PMID:30220072
  9. Memon, N, Griffin, IJ, Lee, CW, Herdt, A, Weinberger, BI, Hegyi, T, Carayannopoulos, MO, Aleksunes, LM, Guo, GL. Developmental regulation of the gut-liver (FGF19-CYP7A1) axis in neonates. J. Matern. Fetal. Neonatal. Med. 2018; :1-6. doi: 10.1080/14767058.2018.1513483. PubMed PMID:30122083 PubMed Central PMC6488437
  10. Rooney, J, Oshida, K, Vasani, N, Vallanat, B, Ryan, N, Chorley, BN, Wang, X, Bell, DA, Wu, KC, Aleksunes, LM et al.. Activation of Nrf2 in the liver is associated with stress resistance mediated by suppression of the growth hormone-regulated STAT5b transcription factor. PLoS ONE. 2018;13 (8):e0200004. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0200004. PubMed PMID:30114225 PubMed Central PMC6095522
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Updated 6 months ago.
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