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Lauren Aleksunes, Pharm.D., Ph.D.
Associate Professor
Department of Pharmacology and Toxicology
EOHSI, Rm 426
Phone: 848-445-5518

Fax:      732-445-4161



BS, University of Connecticut, Storrs, CT
Pharm.D., University of Connecticut, Storrs, CT
Ph.D., University of Connecticut, Storrs, CT
Post-Doc, University of Kansas Medical Center, Kansas City, KS


Our laboratory investigates how drug transporters protect against accumulation and toxicity of pharmaceuticals and environmental contaminants. Within the kidneys, apical efflux transporters enhance renal excretion of drugs and prevent nephrotoxicity. Similarly, these efflux pumps participate in maternal-fetal xenobiotic disposition, thereby protecting the developing fetus from toxicant exposure. Our laboratory utilizes state-of-the-art molecular biology, cell biology, in vivo animal, explant human tissue, and pharmacokinetic/pharmacodynamic approaches to study drug transporters. Attention is placed upon the molecular mechanisms underlying the regulation and function of MDR/PGP, MRP, and BCRP drug transporters. Of particular focus is the disposition of chemotherapeutic agents (such as cisplatin, Platinol®) as well as environmental contaminants.

Better understanding of how drug transporters protect against adverse events and environmental toxicant exposure will enhance prediction of drug-drug interactions as well as provide for the assessment of clinically-relevant single nucleotide gene polymorphisms.

Representative Publications


Wen X, Buckley B, McCandlish E, Manautou J, Goedken M, Aleksunes L (2014) Mrp2 reduces the renal accumulation of cisplatin and protects against nephrotoxicity in wild-type and humanized mice. Am J Pathol. In Press.


Moscovitz J, Aleksunes L (2013) Establishment of metabolism and transport pathways in the rodent and human fetal liver. International J Mol Sciences. 14: 23801-27.

Memon N, Bircsak K, Gibson C, Archer F, Parast M, Ohman-Strickland P, Weinberger B, Vetrano A, Aleksunes L (2013) Regional expression of the BCRP/ABCG2 transporter in term human placentas. Reproductive Toxicology. 43C:72-77.

Aleksunes L, Xu J, Lin E, Wen X, Goedken M, Slitt A (2013) Pregnancy represses induction of hepatobiliary efflux transporters in livers of diabetic mice. Pharm Res. 30: 2209-2220.

Wen X, Donepudi A, Thomas P, Slitt A, King R, Aleksunes L (2013) Regulation of hepatic Phase-II metabolism in pregnant mice. J Pharmacol Exp Ther. 344:244-52.

Yacavino L, Gibson C, Aleksunes L (2013) Down-regulation of brush border efflux transporter expression in the kidneys of pregnant mice. Drug Metab Disp. 41:320-5.

Bircsak K, Gibson C, Robey R, Aleksunes L (2013) Assessment of transporter function using fluorescent cell imaging. Current Protocols in Toxicology. Unit 23.6.1-23.6.15.

Eldasher L, Wen X, Bircsak K, Yacavino L, Aleksunes L (2013) Hepatic and renal Bcrp transporter expression in mice treated with perfluorooctanoic acid. Toxicology. 306: 108-113.

Fortin M, Aleksunes L, Richardson J (2013) Alteration of the expression of pesticide-metabolizing enzymes in pregnant mice: potential role in the increased vulnerability of the developing brain. Drug Metab Disp. 41:326-31. Invited manuscript.

Bircsak K, Richardson J, Aleksunes L (2013) Inhibition of human MDR1 and BCRP transporter ATPase activity by organochlorine and pyrethroid insecticides. J Bio and Mol Tox. 27:157-64. Invited manuscript.

Ahmed M, Aleksunes L, Boeuf P, Chung M, Daoud G, et al. (2013) IFPA Meeting 2012 Workshop Report II: epigenetics and imprinting in the placenta, growth factors and villous trophoblast differentiation, role of the placenta in regulating fetal exposure to xenobiotics during pregnancy, infection and the placenta. Placenta. 34 Supplement: S6-S10. Invited manuscript.


Aleksunes L, Klaassen C (2012) Coordinated regulation of hepatic phase-I, and –II drug metabolizing genes and transporters using AhR-, CAR-, PXR-, PPARalpha- and Nrf2-null mice. Drug Metab Disp. 40:1366-79.

Yacavino L, Aleksunes L (2012) Endocrine and metabolic regulation of renal drug transporters.
J Bio Mol Tox. 26:407-21.

Yacavino L, Aleksunes L (2012) Renal efflux transporter expression in pregnant mice with type 1 diabetes. Toxicology Letters. 211:304-11.

Zhang Y, Cheng X, Aleksunes L, Klaassen C (2012) Transcription factor-mediated regulation of carboxylesterase enzymes in livers of mice. Drug Metab Disp. 40:1191-7.

Cui JY, Aleksunes L, Tanaka Y, Fu Z, Guo Y, Lu H, Zhong X, Klaassen C (2012) Bile acids via FXR initiate the expression of major transporters involved in the enterohepatic circulation of bile acids in newborn mice. Amer J Physiol – Gastro Liver Physiol. 302:G979-96.

Cheng Y, Vapurcuyan A, Shahidullah M, Aleksunes L, Pelis R (2012) Expression of organic anion transporter 2 in the human kidney and its potential role in the tubular secretion of guanine-containing antiviral drugs. Drug Metab Disp.40: 617-24.


Cheng Q, Taguchi K, Aleksunes L, Manautou J, Cherrington N, Yamamoto M, Slitt A (2011) Constitutive activation of Nuclear Factor-E2-Related Factor 2 induces biotransformation enzyme and transporter expression in livers of mice with hepatocyte-specific deletion of Kelch-like ECH-associated protein 1. J Biochem Mol Tox. 25:320-9.


Klaassen C, Aleksunes L (2010) Xenobiotic, bile acid, and cholesterol transporters: function and regulation. Invited Review for Pharm. Rev. 62:1-96.

Aleksunes L, Goedken M, Rockwell C, Thomale J, Manautou J, Klaassen C (2010)  Transcriptional regulation of renal cytoprotective genes by Nrf2 and its potential use as a therapeutic target to mitigate cisplatin-induced nephrotoxicity. J Pharmacol Exp Ther.  335:2-12.

Aleksunes L, Reisman S, Yeager R, Goedken M, Klaassen C (2010)  Nrf2 deletion impairs glucose tolerance and exacerbates hyperglycemia in Type 1 diabetic mice.  J Pharmacol Exp Ther.  333:140-51.

Awards and Honors

2014, American Society of Pharmacology and Experimental Therapeutics, Secretary/Treasurer-Elect

2013, Society of Toxicology, Mechanisms Specialty Section, Councilor

2013, Society of Toxicology, Midatlantic Regional Chapter, Councilor

2013, Editorial Boards, Toxicology and Applied Pharmacology and Drug Metabolism and Disposition

2012, G.O.L.D. Graduate of the Last Decade Award, University of Connecticut Alumni Association

2012, Editorial Boards, Toxicology Letters and Journal of Biochemical and Molecular Toxicology

2011, Outstanding New Environmental Scientist Award, NIH, NIEHS

2011, Society of Toxicology, Membership Committee

2009, Society of Toxicology, Mechanisms Specialty Section, Postdoctoral Award, Baltimore, MD

2008-2012, Pathway to Independence Award K99/R00, NIH, NIDDK

2007, Society of Toxicologic Pathology Travel Award, San Juan, PR

2006, Women in Toxicology Student Achievement Award, San Diego, CA

2005, Lambda Kappa Sigma Young Pharmacist of the Year Award

2004, B. Olive Cole Grant, Lambda Kappa Sigma Professional Pharmacy Fraternity

2004, Rho Chi Pharmacy Honor Society Initiation Speaker

2003-2006, Howard Hughes Predoctoral Fellowship

2002-2003, American Foundation of Pharmaceutical Education-Rho Chi-Schering Plough First Year
                   Graduate Scholarship