Nalini Santanam, Ph.D., M.P.H.

Nalini Santanam, Ph.D., M.P.H.Professor and Cluster Coordinator
Department: Pharmacology, Physiology, and Toxicology
Adjunct Professor in Cardiology Department (Medicine)
Research Clusters: Cardiovascular Disease, Obesity, and Diabetes; and Toxicology and Environmental Health Sciences
Office: BBSC 435-S | Laboratory: BBSC 41
Phone: (304) 696-7321

Research Interests

Project I: Cardiovascular Disease, Diet & Oxidative Stress

Diet, oxidative stress and cardiovascular disease: Cardiovascular disease (CVD) is one of the leading causes of death in the United States. Lifestyle changes such as diet and exercise can help protect against CVD. Oxidative stress (increased production of oxygen and nitrogen derived free radicals and a lower antioxidant defense) plays an important role in CVD especially atherosclerosis (blockage of arteries). Our laboratory is interested in studying the interplay between diet, oxidative stress and the risk to atherosclerosis using animal models susceptible to atherosclerosis (Apo E-/- mice, LDLr-/- mice) or mice that over express antioxidant defense enzymes such as catalase transgenic mice or Bob-Cat mice.

Oxidation theory of atherosclerosis diet oxidation and atherosclerosis

Project II – Obesity, Aging & Cardiovascular Disease

Adipose tissue-vascular crosstalk: Obesity is a worldwide public health concern that predisposes individuals to increased risk to cardiovascular disease (CVD) and Type 2 diabetes. West Virginia has the second largest number of people with obesity in the United States. Increase in visceral/abdominal adiposity is a hallmark for obesity. However, increase in ectopic fat (deposition of fat in non-adipose tissue) is correlated with obesity and is also a marker for future cardiovascular events. Aging, an independent risk factor for CVD, results in adipose dysfunction. Studies in our laboratory are investigating the effect of aging and obesity on the distribution and function of epicardial/perivascular fat (the fat that surrounds the heart and the coronaries) in animal models and humans with coronary artery disease. We are interested in studying the role of microRNA and epigenetic pathways in aging related adipose dysfunction.

Project III – Endometriosis, Pain and Oxidative Stress

Oxidative stress, Pain and Endometriosis: Endometriosis is a disease that afflicts women of child-bearing age. The two major clinical characteristics of this disease are infertility and pain. Though several theories have been put forward, the etiology of endometriosis is still unknown. Clinical studies from our laboratory showed the important etiological role for oxidative stress in endometriosis and the ability of antioxidant supplementation to women with endometriosis relieved the symptoms. In collaboration with the Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology, Marshall University Joan C. Edwards School of Medicine, we are continuing to explore the role of microRNA in the etiology of pain associated with endometriosis. We are also investigating the role of novel antioxidants in alleviating endometriosis associated pain. Our goal is to identify potential targets for therapeutics for women with endometriosis.


Selected Publications

Monica Valentovic and Nalini Santanam. Nutrition, Oxidative Stress and Cancer. Chapter 7, pp77-86 In. Nutrition and cancerFrom Epidemiology to Biology (2012) Editors. Pier Paolo Claudio and Richard M. Niles. Bentham Science Publishers

Meera Penumetcha and Nalini Santanam. Nutraceuticals as Ligands of PPARγ. (2012) PPAR Research (Special Issue) (Invited review) 2012: 858352

Fei J, Cook C and Santanam N. ω-6 lipids regulate PPAR turnover via reciprocal switch between PGC-1alpha and ubiquitination. (2012) Atherosclerosis, 222: 395-401.

Santanam N, Kavatradze N, Murphy A, Dominguez C and S. Parthasarathy. Antioxidant supplementation reduces endometriosis related pelvic pain in humans. (2012) Translational Research. 159,1-7

Garelnabi MO, Veledar E, White-Welkely J, Santanam N, Weintraub W, Abramson, J, Parthasarathy S. Vitamin E differentially affects the short term exercise induced changes in oxidative Stress, lipids, and inflammatory markers: A double blind randomized controlled trial. (2011) (Accepted: Nutrition, Metabolism & Cardiovascular Diseases). PMID: 21782401

Fei J, Cook C, Gillespie M, Yu B, Fullen K, Santanam N. Atherogenic ω-6 lipids modulate PPAR-EGR-1 cross-talk in vascular cells. (2011) PPAR Res. 2011:753917

Parthasarathy S, Raghavamenon A, Garelnabi MO, Santanam, N. Oxidized Low-density Lipoprotein. In. Free Radicals and Antioxidant Protocols. Methods in Molecular Biology.610: (2010), 403-17. Editors. Rao M. Uppu, Subramanyam N. Murthy, William A. Pryor and Narasimham L. Parinandi. Springer Link beta.

Miaozong Wu, Bing Wan, Jia Fei, Nalini Santanam and Eric Blough. Important roles of Akt/PkB signaling in aging process. (2010) Frontiers in Bioscience S2, 1169:1188.

J. Fei, C. Cook, E. Blough and N. Santanam. Age and sex mediated changes in epicardial fat adipokines (2010) Atherosclerosis, 212, 488-494

Garelnabi MO, Veledar E, White-Welkely J, Santanam N, Weintraub W, Parthasarathy S. Physical inactivity and cardiovascular risk: baseline observation from men and pre-menopausal women. (2010) J. Clin Lab. Anal. 24(2):100-5

B. Yu, C. Cook and N. Santanam. The aporphine alkaloid Boldine induces adiponectin expression and regulation in 3T3-L1 cells. (2009) J Medicinal Food 12(5):1-10.

L. A. Dvoracek, J. I. Kreisberg, J. McKinney, G. Schmid, A. D. Francis, B.S., K. L. Kacmarik, H. M. Lee, M. S. Detrick, D. A Primerano, N. Santanam and R. Kreisberg. Lovastatin inhibits oxidized- L-A-phosphatidylcholine B-arachidonoyl-gamma-palmitoyl (ox-PAPC)-stimulated mRNA and protein synthesis in human aortic endothelial cells by depleting stores of geranylgeranyl pyrophosphate. (2009) Atherosclerosis PMID: 19595352

M. Garelnabi, K. Selvarajan, D. Litvinov, N. Santanam and S. Parthasarathy. Dietary oxidized linoleic acid lowers triglycerides via APOA5/APOCIII dependent mechanisms. (2008) Atherosclerosis, 199(2):304-9.

N. Santanam and S. Parthasarathy. Aspirin is a substrate with paraoxonase–like activity: Implications in Atherosclerosis (2007), Atherosclerosis, 191(2):272-5.

Laboratory Personnel

Nalini Santanam, Ph.D., M.P.H. – Professor

Carla Cook, B.A. – Research Associate

Kristeena Ray – Ph.D. Candidate

Melissa Massie – Undergraduate Student

Clinical Studies

  1. EPICARDIAL FAT BIOMARKERS: WV-Appalachian Heart Study. In collaboration with Department of Medicine (Cardiology) and Department of Cardiothoracic Surgery, St. Mary’s Heart Center, Huntington, WV.
  2. OXIDATIVE STRESS AND ENDOMETRIOSIS: In collaboration with Department of Gynecology and Obstetrics, Cabell Huntington Hospital, Huntington, WV.
  3. MICRORNA & TECHNOLOGY BASED INTERVENTION IN DIABETIC PATIENTS: In collaboration with Department of Endocrinology.
  4. MICRORNA & TYPE 1 DIABETES: In collaboration with Department of Endocrinology.


  1. RO1 HL74239, NIH/NHLBI: Oxidized Lipids in Cardiovascular disease
  2. P20 RR016477- 09S2, NIH-NCRR: Epicardial Fat Biomarkers in Patients with Coronary Artery Disease in the Appalachian Region
  3. EPSCoR-CDDC seed grant: Cerebrovascular dysfunction in Diabetes: role of circulating miRNA
  4. NASA WV-EPSCoR Seed grant: Epigenetic regulation of adipose function