Dr. Vithal Ghanta

Vithal Ghanta

Professor, Cancer Immunology


(205) 934-4482
(205) 975-6097
Ph.D. (Chemistry & Biochemistry), 1970, Southern Illinois University

Research Description:

The primary interest of our group centers on the communication between immune system and the central nervous system. The interaction between these two systems has now been firmly established due to the sharing of common signal molecules and also the presence of receptors for these molecules.

One direct way of studying this communication is with conditioning. Our group is using conditioning of immune functions such as natural killer (NK) cell activity and cytotoxic T-lymphocyte activity. The stimuli for the conditioned augmentation of NK cell activity are poly I:C (unconditioned stimulus, US) and odor of camphor (conditioned stimulus, CS).

We have established that the afferent signal for conditioned augmentation of NK cell activity is interferon and the efferent signals are derived from the opioid pathway and also hypothalamus-pituitary axis. However, the neural 'site' where the CS signal (camphor odor) links with the US (interferon) or the neural route within the CNS by which the CS triggers the expression of the conditioned response has not been clearly established.

The goals of our research are to establish the mechanisms of conditioning and also applications of conditioning as a modality for the treatment of cancer in mice. In addition to immune system and central nervous system communication, we are also interested in the development of immunotherapy strategies for the treatment of murine tumors.

Representative Publications:
Hsueh, C-M., S-F. Chen, V.K. Ghanta and R.N. Hiramoto. 1996. Involvement of cytokine gene expression in the age-dependent decline of NK cell response. Cell. Immunol. 173:221-229.

Ghanta, V., S. Demissie, N. Hiramoto and R. Hiramoto. 1996. Conditioning of body temperature and NK cell activity with arecoline a muscarinic cholinergic agonist. Neuroimmunomodulation 3:233-238.

Hiramoto, R., C-M. Hsueh, S. Demissie, C. Rogers, J. Lorden and V. Ghanta. 1997. Psychoneuroendocrineimmunology: Site of recognition, learning, and memory in the immune system and the brain (Review). Int. J. Neurosci. 92:259-286.

Hiramoto, R, Solvason, B, Hsueh, C-M, Rogers, C, Demissie, S, Hiramoto, N, Gauthier, D, Lorden, J, Ghanta, V. Psychoneuroendocrine Immunology: Perception of stress can alter body temperature and natural killer cell activity (Review). Int. J. Neuroscience, 98:96-129, 1999.

Demissie, S, Ghanta, V, Hiramoto, N, Hiramoto, R. NK cell and CTL activities can be raised via conditioning of the CNS with unrelated unconditioned stimuli. Int. J. Neuroscience (In press).