Skip to the content

Kansas State University


Frank Blecha




Frank Blecha

PhD, Immunology, Washington State University, 1981

University Distinguished Professor

Associate Dean for Research


Phone (785) 532-4537





Research Interests:

Our laboratory studies the interrelationship of immunology and physiology in animals. This includes evaluation of the regulatory mechanisms involved in innate immunity and in stress- and pathogen-induced immune alterations. A major interest of our laboratory is understanding the interactions between antimicrobial peptides and antiviral cytokines, bacteria, viruses and pattern recognition receptors.

One of the most fundamental, innate defense mechanisms is the cellular production of antimicrobial peptides. These natural antibiotics are produced by a diverse array of cell types including cells of the immune system and epithelial cells of the small intestine and respiratory tract. Because of the pluripotent functions of many of these antibacterial peptides, we are investigating the role of porcine antimicrobial peptides in innate immune mechanisms of young pigs. "Natural Antibiotics"  Cytokine immunopotentiation and regulation, and investigations of the influence of environmental stressors on cellular and antibody-mediated immune responses also have been a focus of our laboratory.

Short Bio:

Selected Publications:  

Sang, Y., W. Brichalli, R.R.R. Rowland and F. Blecha. 2014. Genome-wide analysis of antiviral signature genes in porcine macrophages at different activation statuses. PLoS One. 5;9(2):e87613.

Li, X., A. Galliher-Beckley, L. Pappan, B. Trible, M. Kerrigan, A. Beck, D. Hesse, F. Blecha, J.C. Nietfeld, R.R. Rowland, and J. Shi. 2014. Comparison of host immune responses to homologous and heterologous type II porcine reproductive and respiratory syndrome virus (PRRSV) challenge in vaccinated and unvaccinated pigs. Biomed. Res. International. Article ID 416727,

Dawson, H.D., J.E. Loveland, G. Pascal, J.G. Gilbert, H. Uenishi, K.M. Mann, Y. Sang, J. Zhang, D. Carvalho-Silva, T. Hunt, M. Hardy, Z. Hu, S.H. Zhao, A. Anselmo, H. Shinkai, C. Chen, B. Badaoui, D. Berman, C. Amid, M. Kay, D. Lloyd, C. Snow, T. Morozumi, R.P. Cheng, M. Bystrom, R. Kapetanovic, J.C. Schwartz, R. Kataria, M. Astley, E. Fritz, C. Steward, M. Thomas, L. Wilming, D. Toki, A.L. Archibald, B. Bed Hom, D. Beraldi, T.H. Huang, T. Ait-Ali, F. Blecha, S. Botti, T.C. Freeman, E. Giuffra, D.A. Hume, J.K. Lunney, M.P. Murtaugh, J.M. Reecy, J.L. Harrow, C. Rogel-Gaillard, and C.K. Tuggle.  2013.  Structural and functional annotation of the porcine immunome.  BMC Genomics, 15;14:332.

Groenen, M.A.M., A.L. Archibald, H. Uenishi, C.K. Tuggle, Y. Takeuchi, M.F. Rothschild, C. Rogel-Gaillard, C. Park, D. Milan, H.-J. Megens, S. Li, D.M. Larkin, H. Kim, L.A.F. Frantz, M. Caccamo, H. Ahn, B.L. Aken, A. Anselmo, C. Anthon, L. Auvil, B. Badaoui, C.W. Beattie, C. Bendixen, D. Berman, F.Blecha, et al.  2012.  Analyses of pig genomes provide insight into porcine demography and evolution.  Nature, 491:393-398.  

Hennig-Pauka I., R. Koch, D. Hoeltig, G.F. Gerlach, K.H. Waldmann , F. Blecha, C. Brauer, and  H. Gasse. 2012.  PR-39, a porcine host defence peptide, is prominent in mucosa and lymphatic tissue of the respiratory tract in healthy pigs and pigs infected with Actinobacillus pleuropneumoniae. BMC Res Notes.  5:539.

Sang Y, R.R. Rowland, and F. Blecha. 2011. Interaction between innate immunity and porcine reproductive and respiratory syndrome virus.  Anim. Health Res. Rev. 12:149-167.

Sang Y, R.R. Rowland, and F. Blecha. 2010.  Molecular characterization and antiviral analyses of porcine type III interferons.  J. Interferon Cytokine Res. 30:801-807.

Sang, Y., R.R. Rowland, R.A. Hesse, and F. Blecha.  2010. Differential expression and activity of the porcine type I interferon family.  Physiol. Genomics.  42:248-258.

Sang, Y. and F. Blecha. 2009. Porcine host defense peptides: expanding repertoire and functions. Dev. Comp. Immunol. 33:334-343.

Ganta, C.K., B.G. Helwig, F. Blecha, R.R. Ganta, R. Cober, S. Parimi, T.I. Musch, R.J. Fels, and M.J. Kenney. 2006. Hypothermia-enhanced splenic cytokine gene expression is independent of the sympathetic nervous system. Am. J. Physiol. Regulatory Integrative Comp. Physiol. 291:R558-R565.

Kenney, M.J., Blecha F., Wang Y., McMurphy R., and Fels R.J. Sympathoexcitation to intravenous interleukin-1ß is dependent on forebrain neural circuits. Am. J. Physiol Heart Circ. Physiol. 283:H501-H505, 2002.

Blecha, F. Immunology. In: Biology of the Domestic Pig, ( W.G. Pond and H.J. Mersmann, Eds.),pp. 688-711, Cornell University Press, Ithaca, 2001.

Wu, H., G. Zhang, J.E. Minton, C.R. Ross, and F. Blecha.  Regulation of cathelicidin gene expression: induction by lipopolysaccaride, interleukin-6, retinoic acid, and Salmonella enterica serovar Typhimurium infection.  Infect.  Immun.  68: 5552-5558, 2000.

Zhang, G., H. Hiraiwa, H. Yasue, H. Wu, C.R. Ross, D.Troyer, and F. Blecha. Cloning and characterization of the gene for a new epithelial β-defensin: genomic structure, chromosomal localization, and evidence for its constitutive expression. J. Biol. Chem. 274:24031-24037, 1999.

Shi, J., C.R. Ross, T.L. Leto, and F. Blecha. PR-39, a proline-rich antibacterial peptide that inhibits phagocyte NADPH oxidase activity by binding to Src homology 3 domains of p47phox. Proc. Natl. Acad. Sci. USA 93:6014-6018, 1996.