Emmanuel Katsanis
Professor, BIO5 Institute
Professor, Immunobiology
Professor, Medicine
Professor, Pathology
Professor, Pediatrics
Program Director, Blood and Bone Marrow Transplant
Professor, Cancer Biology - GIDP
Primary Department
Department Affiliations
(520) 626-7053
Work Summary
Augmenting immune responses to cancer. Reducing relapse and graft versus host disease after hematopoietic cell transplantation.
Research Interest
Dr. Emmanuel Katsanis, MD, and his laboratory conduct basic and translational research aimed at advancing new cancer immunotherapeutic strategies. His expertise is in stem cell transplant immunology, cellular therapy, and cancer vaccine approaches.Immunity against tumors depends on complex innate and adaptive immune responses that involve the sequential mobilization of 'messenger' and 'killer' immune cells. However, despite the arsenal harbored by the immune system to ensure tumor immunosurveillance, cancers can escape immune detection and elimination. Current research in the laboratory is evaluating immuno- and chemo-immunotherapeutic strategies to promote anti-tumor immune responses following bone marrow transplantation, while investigating approaches to mitigate graft versus host effects. Keywords: Cancer Immunology, Hematopoietic Cell Transplantation


Ramanathapuram, L. V., Hahn, T., Graner, M. W., Katsanis, E., & Akporiaye, E. T. (2006). Vesiculated alpha-tocopheryl succinate enhances the anti-tumor effect of dendritic cell vaccines. Cancer immunology, immunotherapy : CII, 55(2), 166-77.

Alpha tocopheryl succinate (alpha-TOS) is a non-toxic vitamin E analog under study for its anti-cancer properties. In an earlier study, we showed that alpha-TOS, when used in combination with non-matured dendritic cells (nmDC) to treat pre-established tumors, acts as an effective adjuvant. In this study, we have used vesiculated alpha-TOS (Valpha-TOS), a more soluble form of alpha-TOS that is relevant for clinical use, in combination with dendritic cells to treat pre-established murine tumors. We demonstrate that Valpha-TOS kills tumor cells in vitro and inhibits the growth of pre-established murine lung carcinoma (3LLD122) as effectively as alpha-TOS. The combination of Valpha-TOS plus non-matured or TNF-alpha-matured DC is more effective at inhibiting the growth of established tumors than Valpha-TOS alone. We also observed that Valpha-TOS induces expression of heat shock proteins in tumor cells and that co-incubation of non-matured DC with lysate derived from Valpha-TOS-treated tumor cells leads to DC maturation evidenced by up-regulation of co-stimulatory molecules and secretion of IL-12p70. This study therefore demonstrates the immunomodulatory properties of Valpha-TOS that may account for its adjuvant effect when combined with DC vaccines to treat established tumors.

Feng, H., Zeng, Y., Graner, M. W., Likhacheva, A., & Katsanis, E. (2003). Exogenous stress proteins enhance the immunogenicity of apoptotic tumor cells and stimulate antitumor immunity. Blood, 101(1), 245-52.

We have previously reported that apoptotic tumor cells can be either immunogenic or nonimmunogenic in vivo, depending on whether or not these cells are heat stressed before induction of apoptosis. Stressed apoptotic cells express heat shock proteins on their plasma membranes and dendritic cells are capable of distinguishing them from nonstressed apoptotic cells. Here we provide evidence that when purified heat shock protein 70 or chaperone-rich cell lysate (CRCL) from syngeneic normal tissue is used as an adjuvant with nonimmunogenic apoptotic tumor cells in vaccination, potent antitumor immunity can be generated. This antitumor immunity is mediated by T cells because antitumor effects are not observed in either severe combined immunodeficiency or T cell-depleted mice. We further demonstrate that vaccination of mice with apoptotic tumor cells mixed with liver-derived CRCL as adjuvant were capable of enhancing the production of T(H)1 cytokines, inducing specific cytotoxic T lymphocytes and eliciting long-lasting antitumor immunity. Stress proteins from autologous normal tissue components therefore can serve as danger signals to enhance the immunogenicity of apoptotic tumor cells and stimulate tumor-specific immunity

Lakomy, D., Janikashvili, N., Fraszczak, J., Trad, M., Audia, S., Samson, M., Ciudad, M., Vinit, J., Vergely, C., Caillot, D., Foucher, P., Lagrost, L., Chouaib, S., Katsanis, E., Larmonier, N., & Bonnotte, B. (2011). Cytotoxic dendritic cells generated from cancer patients. Journal of immunology (Baltimore, Md. : 1950), 187(5), 2775-82.

Known for years as professional APCs, dendritic cells (DCs) are also endowed with tumoricidal activity. This dual role of DC as killers and messengers may have important implications for tumor immunotherapy. However, the tumoricidal activity of DCs has mainly been investigated in animal models. Cancer cells inhibit antitumor immune responses using numerous mechanisms, including the induction of immunosuppressive/ tolerogenic DCs that have lost their ability to present Ags in an immunogenic manner. In this study, we evaluated the possibility of generating tumor killer DCs from patients with advanced-stage cancers. We demonstrate that human monocyte-derived DCs are endowed with significant cytotoxic activity against tumor cells following activation with LPS. The mechanism of DC-mediated tumor cell killing primarily involves peroxynitrites. This observed cytotoxic activity is restricted to immature DCs. Additionally, after killing, these cytotoxic DCs are able to activate tumor Ag-specific T cells. These observations may open important new perspectives for the use of autologous cytotoxic DCs in cancer immunotherapy strategies.

Hanke, N., Alizadeh, D., Katsanis, E., & Larmonier, N. (2013). Dendritic cell tumor killing activity and its potential applications in cancer immunotherapy. Critical reviews in immunology, 33(1), 1-21.

Universally viewed as the sentinels and messengers of the immune system and traditionally referred to as professional antigen-presenting cells, dendritic cells (DCs) play a fundamental role in antitumor immunity. DCs are uniquely equipped with the ability to acquire, process, and present to T lymphocytes tumor-derived antigens. They can drive the differentiation of naive T cells into activated tumor-specific effector lymphocytes. DCs also dictate the type and regulate the strength and duration of T-cell responses. In addition, they contribute to natural killer and natural killer T-cell antitumoral function and to B-cell-mediated immunity. Besides this cardinal role as orchestrators of innate and adaptive immune responses, many studies have provided evidence that DCs can also function as direct cytotoxic effectors against tumors. This less conventional aspect of DC function has, however, raised controversy as it relates to the origin of these cells and the induction, regulation, and mechanisms underlying their tumoricidal activity. The possible impact of the cytotoxic function of DCs on their capability to present antigens also has been the focus of intensive research. This review examines these questions and discusses the biological significance of this nontraditional property and possible strategies to exploit the killing potential of DCs in cancer immunotherapy.

McEarchern, J. A., Kobie, J. J., Mack, V., Wu, R. S., Meade-Tollin, L., Arteaga, C. L., Dumont, N., Besselsen, D., Seftor, E., Hendrix, M. J., Katsanis, E., & Akporiaye, E. T. (2001). Invasion and metastasis of a mammary tumor involves TGF-beta signaling. International journal of cancer, 91(1), 76-82.

Several studies have correlated escape from TGF-beta-mediated cell cycle arrest with the tumorigenic phenotype. Most often, this escape from growth control has been linked to dysfunctional TGF-beta receptors or defects in the TGF-beta-mediated SMAD signaling pathway. In this report, we found that highly metastatic 4T1 mammary carcinoma cells express functional TGF-beta receptors capable of initiating SMAD-mediated transcription, yet are not growth inhibited by TGF-beta1. We further observed that TGF-beta directly contributes to the metastatic behavior of this cell line. Exposure to TGF-beta caused 4T1 cells to undergo morphological changes associated with the metastatic phenotype and invade more readily through collagen coated matrices. Furthermore, expression of a dominant negative truncated type II receptor diminished TGF-beta signaling and significantly restricted the ability of 4T1 cells to establish distant metastases. Our results suggest that regardless of 4T1 resistance to TGF-beta-mediated growth inhibition, TGF-beta signaling is required for tumor invasion and metastases formation.