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Neeraj K. Saxena

Neeraj K. Saxena Ph.D.

Academic Title: Assistant Professor
Primary Appointment: Medicine
Location: UMMC N3W62
Phone: 410-706-6949
Fax: 410-328-8315
Lab: 410-706-6951

Research Interests:

Research in my lab examines the molecular mechanisms underlying links between obesity, adipocytokines and carcinogenesis. We have established from our previous studies leptin and adiponectin, play very critical roles in liver fibrosis and carcinogenesis. Leptin is found to be pro-fibrogenic and pro-cancerous while adiponectin has been found to have quite opposite effect. Adiponectin is inversely correlated with the various consequences of obesity including cancer.


  1. KI et al. Designing a broad-spectrum integrative approach for cancer prevention and treatment. Seminars in Cancer Biology, 2015 Dec.; 35. Sppl S276-304. doi: 10.1016/j.semcancer.2015.09.007.
  2. Dimiter B. Avtanski, Arumugam Nagalingam, Michael Y. Bonner, Jack L. Arbiser, Neeraj K. Saxena and Dipali Sharma. Honokiol activates LKB1-miR-34a axis and antagonizes the oncogenic actions of leptin in breast cancer. Oncotarget, 2015 Oct 6;6(30):29947-62.
  3. Jadeja R. N, Urrunaga N. H, Dash S, Khurana S and Saxena N. K. Withaferin-A Reduces Acetaminophen-Induced Liver Injury in Mice. Biochem Pharmacol. 2015 Sep 1;97(1):122-32.
  4. Dipali Sharma and Neeraj K. Saxena. Mouse models to study the effect of natural products on obesity associated NAFLD / NASH. Book Chapter; Murine Models in Energy Balance and Cancer. Apr 17. pii: S1044-579X(15)00014-0.
  5. Dimiter B. Avtanski, Arumugam Nagalingam, Panjamurthy Kuppusamy, Michael Y. Bonner, Jack L. Arbiser, Neeraj K. Saxena and Dipali Sharma. Honokiol abrogates leptin-induced tumor progression by inhibiting Wnt1-MTA1-β-catenin signaling axis in a microRNA-34a dependent manner. Oncotarget, 2015 Jun 30;6(18):16396-410.
  6. Feitelson M. A., Arzumanyan A, Kulathinal R. J., Blain S. W., Holcombe R. F., Mahajna J., Marino M., Martinez-Chantar M. L., Nawroth R., Sanchez-Garcia I., Sharma D., Saxena Neeraj Kumar, Singh N., Vlachostergios P. J., Guo S., Honoki K., Fujii H., Georgakilas A. G., Amedei A., Niccolai E., Amin A., Ashraf S. S., Boosani C. S., Guha G., Ciriolo M. R., Aquilano K.,Chen S, Mohammed S. I., Azmi A. S., Bhakta D., Halicka D., Nowsheen S. Sustained proliferation in cancer: Mechanisms and novel therapeutic targets. Seminars in Cancer Biology, 2015 April 17. Pii: S1044-579X(15)00014-0.
  7. Neeraj K. Saxena and Frank A. Anania. Adipokines and hepatic fibrosis. Trends in Endocrinology and Metabolism, 2015 March; 26(3): 153-161.
  8. Kumar P, Smith T, Rahman K, Mells JE, Thorn NE, Saxena NK, Anania FA. Adiponectin modulates focal adhesion disassembly in activated hepatic stellate cells: implication for reversing hepatic fibrosis. FASEB J. 2014 Aug 25; (12): 5172-83.
  9. Arumugam Nagalingam, Panjamurthy Kuppusamy, Shivendra V. Singh, Dipali Sharma and Neeraj K. Saxena. Mechanistic elucidation of the antitumor properties of withaferin a in breast cancer. Cancer Research, 2014 May 1; 74(9): 2617-29.
  10. Avtanski, D. B., Nagalingam, A., Bonner, M. Y., Arbiser, J. L., Saxena, N. K. #, and Sharma, D. Honokiol inhibits epithelial-mesenchymal transition in breast cancer cells by targeting signal transducer and activator of transcription 3/Zeb1/E-cadherin axis. Molecular Oncology, 2014 May; 8(3): 565-580.
  11. Neeraj K Saxena* # and Dipali Sharma. Multifaceted leptin network: The molecular connection between obesity and breast cancer. Journal of Mammary Gland Biology and Neoplasia 2013 Dec;18 (3-4):309-20.
  12. Sandeep Khurana, Ravirajsinh Jadeja, William Twadell, Kunrong Cheng, Vikrant Rachakonda, Neeraj Saxena and Jean-Pierre Raufman. Effects of modulating M3 muscarinic receptor activity on azoxymethane-induced liver injury in mice. Biochemical Pharmacology 2013 Jul 15, 86(2): 329-338.
  13. LaTonia Taliaferro-Smith, Arumugam Nagalingam, Brandi Brandon Knight, Elaine Oberlick, Neeraj K. Saxena # and Dipali Sharma. Integral role of PTP1B in adiponectin mediated inhibition of oncogenic actions of leptin in breast carcinogenesis. Neoplasia 2013 15(1): 23-28.
  14. Kavita Bhalla, Bor Jang Hwang, Ruby Dewi, William Twaddel, Olga Goloubeva, Kwok-kin Wong, Shayam Biswal, Neeraj Saxena, Geoffrey D. Girnun. Metformin prevents liver tumorigenesis by inhibiting pathways driving hepatic lipogenesis. Cancer Prevention Research. 2012 Apr;5(4):544-52.
  15. Arumugam Nagalingam, Jack L. Arbiser, Michael Y. Bonner, Neeraj K. Saxena, Dipali Sharma. Honokiol activates AMP-activated protein kinase in breast cancer cells via LKB1-dependent pathway and inhibits breast carcinogenesis. Breast Cancer Research. 2012 Feb 21;14(1):R35.
  16. Nagalingam A, Tighiouart M, Ryden L, Joseph L, Landberg G, Neeraj K Saxena, Dipali Sharma. Med1 plays a critical role in the development of tamoxifen resistance. Carcinogenesis. 2012 Apr; 33(4):918-30.
  17. Dan Yan, Dimiter Avtanski, Neeraj K Saxena, Dipali Sharma. Leptin-induced Epithelial-Mesenchymal Transition in Breast Cancer Cells Requires β-Catenin Activation via Akt/GSK3- and MTA1/Wnt1 Protein-dependent Pathways. The Journal of Biological Chemistry. 2012; March 9; 287(11):8598-612.
  18. Mells JE, Fu PP, Sharma S, Olson D, Cheng L, Handy JA, Saxena NK, Sorescu D, Anania FA. Glp-1 analog, liraglutide, ameliorates hepatic steatosis and cardiac hypertrophy in C57BL/6J mice fed a Western diet. American Journal of Physiology: Gastroenterology and Liver Physiology. 2012; Jan;302(2):G225-35.
  19. Dipali Sharma, Jason Wang, Ping P. Fu, Shvetank Sharma, Arumugam Nagalingam, Jamie Mells, Jaffrey Handy, Andrew J. Page, Cynthia Cohen, Frank A. Anania, Neeraj K. Saxena. Adiponectin antagonizes the oncogenic actions of leptin in hepatocellular carcinogenesis. Hepatology. 2010 Nov; 52(5):1713-1722.
  20. N. K. Saxena, P.P.Fu, A. Nagalingam, J. Wang, J. A. Handy, C. Cohen, M. Tighiourat, D. Sharma and Frank. A. Anania. Adiponectin Modulates C-Jun N-Terminal Kinase and Mammalian Target of Rapamycin and inhibit hepatocellular carcinoma. Gastroenterology. 2010 Nov; 139(5):1762-1773.
  21. Neeraj K. Saxena and Dipali Sharma. Metastasis suppression by adiponectin: LKB1 rises up to the challenge. Cell Adhesion & Migration. 2010, 4(3):358-362.
  22. N. A. Gupta, J. E. Mells, R. M. Dunham, A. Grakoui, J. A. Handy, N. K. Saxena, and F. A. Anania. Glucagon-like Peptide-1 Receptor (GLP-1R) is present on human hepatocytes and has a direct role in decreasing hepatic steatosis in vitro by modulating elements of the insulin signaling pathway. Hepatology. 2010, 51(5): 1584-92.
  23. L. Taliaferro-Smith, A. Nagalingam, D. Zhong, W. Zhou, N. K. Saxena and Sharma D (2009). LKB1 is required for adiponectin-mediated inhibition of metastatic properties of breast cancer cells. Oncogene. 2009, 28(29): 2621-2633.
  24. N. K. Saxena, L. Taliaferro Smith, B. Brandon, F. A. Anania and D. Sharma (2008). Bidirectional cross talk between leptin and IGF-1 signaling promotes invasion and migration of triple-negative breast cancer cells via transactivation of EGFR. Cancer Research. 2008, (68): 9712-9722.
  25. N. K. Saxena, P. M. Vertino, F. A. Anania and D. Sharma (2007). Leptin induced growth stimulation of breast cancer cells involves recruitment of histone acetyltransferases and mediator complex to cyclin D1 promoter via activation of Stat3. The Journal of Biological Chemistry. 2007, 282(18): 13316-13325.
  26. N. K. Saxena, D.Sharma, S. S. Lin, X. A. Ding, D. Merlin and F. A. Anania. (2007). Concomitant activation of the JAK/STAT, PI3K/AKT and ERK signaling is involved in leptin mediated promotion of invasion and migration of hepatocellular carcinoma cells. Cancer Research. 2007, 67(6): 2497-2507.