Lee Soderberg, Ph.D.

Adjunct Professor, Department of Microbiology & Immunology
Research Interest: Immunotoxicity of drugs of abuse
Ph.D., Rutgers University
Postdoctoral: Harvard Medical School
Phone: (501) 686-6368
Fax: (501) 686-5359


Research Description

We previously studied the effects of nitrite inhalants, such as amyl, butyl, and isobutyl nitrites, on the immune system. Epidemiological studies have shown that individuals who abuse these drugs have a statistically higher probability of becoming infected with human immunodeficiency virus (HIV). In addition, AIDS patients with a history of abuse of nitrite inhalants are more likely to have Kaposi’s sarcoma (KS) than are non-abuser AIDS patients. If these inhalants compromise immune mechanisms, that might suggest that abusers have reduced resistance to infection with HIV or to HHV-8, the likely etiologic agent of KS.

In my laboratory, we developed a mouse model of inhalation exposure to study the immunotoxicity of the nitrite inhalants. Using this model, we have shown that regular exposures to isobutyl nitrite impaired three major immune mechanisms, T-dependent antibody induction, cytotoxic T cell induction, and macrophage tumoricidal activity. When mice were implanted with a syngeneic tumor, exposure to nitrite inhalants increased tumor growth by 4-fold. Intriguingly, accessory cells, macrophages and dendritic cells, appear to be the principal targets of the toxicity. We are currently investigating the effects of nitrite exposure on accessory cell functions, including the processing and presentation of tumor antigens and signal transduction pathways. Our hypothesis is that the increase in tumor growth was caused by inhalant-induced immunosuppression, acting primarily on accessory cell functions. Looking forward, we will test the ability of the nitrite inhalants to modulate the growth of Kaposi’s sarcoma and the replication of HIV and HHV-8.

A secondary project has been evaluating certain glycoconjugates in the intracellular phagocytic killing of Bacillus spores.

Due to administrative duties, I am unable to take on graduate students at this time.


Tarasenko, O., A. Scott, L. Soderberg, and P. Alusta. 2012. Glycoconjugates prevent B anthracis toxin-induced cell death through binding while activating macrophages. Glycoconjugate J. 29 (1): 25-33

Tarasenko, O., A. Scott, K. Hester, M.P. Kim, D. McManus, L. Soderberg, U. Ponnappan, P. Alusta. 2012. Nitric oxide and nitric oxide synthase involved in killing of Bacillus spores during glycoconjugate-enhanced phagocytosis. Glycoconjugate J. In Press

Tarasenko, O., A. Scott, L. Soderberg, U. Ponnappan, and P. Alusta. 2010. Killing of Bacillus spores is mediated by nitric oxide and nitric oxide synthase during glycoconjugate–enhanced phagocytosis. Glycoconjugate J. 27 (1):13-25

Lahiani, M., L. Soderberg, and O. Tarasenko. 2011. Glycoconjugates as mediators of nitirc oxide production. Proc. Amer Inst. Physics, 1326:135-142

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