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Dr. Robert Dantzer

Dr. Robert Dantzer

Regular Member

The University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center
Department of Symptom Research

Research Interests:

My research focuses on the behavioral and psychopathological consequences of the effects of cancer therapy on the brain.  During cancer therapy the inflammatory mediators that are produced by peripheral innate immune cells alter brain functions via neural and humoral communication pathways.  The brain forms an image of the peripheral immune response using the same cells and molecules as those mobilized at the periphery to fight danger.  Brain cytokines induce sickness behavior, a well-coordinated response of the host to help coping with activation of the immune system, and this response is normally reversible.  When the brain cytokine system is no longer regulated such as during chronic inflammation or in the presence of vulnerability factors, this response eventually culminates in behavioral and psychiatric disorders including pain, depression, chronic fatigue, and cognitive dysfunction ("chemobrain").  At the experimental level we use the approaches of neuroimmunology and behavioral neuroscience to explore the mechanisms that are responsible for the transition from sickness to these disorders, with an emphasis on the tryptophan degrading enzyme indoleamine 2,3 dioxygenase that is induced by inflammatory mediators.  Degradation of tryptophan by indoleamine 2,3 dioxygenase generates neurotoxic metabolites.  At the clinical level, we collaborate with other investigators in the Department to study the possibility that the symptoms experienced by cancer patients (e.g., fatigue, depressed mood, cognitive dysfunction) are mediated by inflammation and can be attenuated by interventions that attenuate inflammation.

Additional information

Additional Information - Collaborative Projects:

Dr. A. Kavelaars, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign and University Medical College of Utrecht, The Netherlands - A novel neuroimmune risk factor for comorbid depression and chronic pain

Professor K.W. Kelley, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign - Neuroimmune mechanisms of depressive-like behavior during aging

Professor R.W. Johnson, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign - Neuroinflammation and behavior in the aged

Dr. R.H. McCusker, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign - Neuroimmunology and behavior: Natural antagonism of sickness and depression

Dr. J. C. O'Connor, University of Texas at San Antonio, Medical Center - Biobehavioral role of brain kynurenine metabolism in mental illness

Dr. Sophie Laye, Institut National de la Recherche Agronomique, University of Boredeaux, NutriNeuro Laboratory, Bordeaux, France - Nutritional targets for controlling neuroinflammation



MDACC Faculty

Program Affiliations:

Program in Immunology

Program in Neuroscience

Contact Information

Phone: 713.563.4793


Office: MDA FCT11.5602 (Unit1450) -- Lab: IBT 1025

Title: Professor


Doctorate in Veterinary Medicine - University Paul Sabatier (France) - 1967
University Doctorate - University of Paris IV (France) - 1972
Doctorate d'Etat es-Sciences - University Paul Sabatier (France) - 1977