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College of Veterinary Medicine

Thu Annelise Nguyen

 Associate Professor, Toxicology

PhD (2001), Texas A&M University
MBA (2007), Kansas State University

K-244 Mosier Hall
Office: 785-532-4429
Lab: 785-532-4431
Fax: 785-532-4039


The intercellular signaling system mediated by intercellular communication is crucial in maintaining the synchronized responses of cells to stimuli, tissue homeostasis, growth control and development.  In normal tissues, gap junctions (GJs), one type of intercellular communications, are membrane channels that allow a direct exchange of small molecules between the cytoplasm of contacting cells.  GJs are made of hexamers of gap junction proteins, called connexins.  There are many protein kinases identified that phosphorylate different connexins.  Our lab focuses on specific isoforms of Protein Kinase C (PKC) that are regulated connexins during cancer formation. We know that tumor cells have reduced or altered gap junctional intercellular communication (GJIC) capacity.  Increasing cell-cell communication in tumor cells enhances drug sensitivity.  Hence, increasing gap junction activity or enhancing GJIC in tumor cells provides the means to enhance anti-neoplastic therapies.  Thus, we have designed synthetic small molecules that specifically activate GJIC activity and inhibit cancer cell growth. 

Breast cancer is the major life-threatening malignancy among women in United States.  Breast tumor is dependent on estrogen and estrogen receptor and responsive to estrogen ablation therapy; however, there is a high rate of treatment failure.  Estrogen-independent cells aggressively emerge after one to five years.  Worldwide, a 40-70% of patients ultimately develop metastatic disease.  This may due to treatment failure, poor prognosis, morbidity and mortality.  In our lab, we have assembled an in vitro integrated cellular model of breast cancer pattern to mimic the progression from an estrogen-dependent to an estrogen-independent stage and evaluate the processes of cell survival, invasion and metastasis.  This integrated cellular system plays a significant role in promoting invasion and metastasis from a physiological toward pathological conditions. The mimicking metastatic development can provide insight into the mechanism of invasion and metastasis and facilitate the findings of new approaches for its control and/or eradication.


Dr. Nguyen is the course coordinator for DMP 810, Cancer Pathogenesis, and an instructor for DMP 806, Environmental Toxicology.

Publications from 2008-present

Stephanie N Shishido, Keshar Prasain, Amanda Beck, Thi DT Nguyen, Duy H Hua and Thu A. Nguyen.  (2013) Bioavailability and efficacy of a gap junction enhancer (PQ7) in a mouse mammary tumor model. PLOS ONE, in press.

Stephanie N. Shishido, Emma B. Faulkner, Amanda Beck, and Thu A. Nguyen.  (2013) The Effect of Antineoplastic Drugs in a Male Spontaneous Mammary Tumor Model.  PLoS ONE, in press.

Ying Ding and T. A. Nguyen.  (2013) PQ1, a Quinoline Derivative, Induces Apoptosis in Breast Cancer Cells through both Intrinsic and Extrinsic Pathways.  Apoptosis, doi 10.1007/s10495-013-0855-1.

Huang H, Ding Y, Sun XS, Nguyen TA. (2013) Peptide Hydrogelation and Cell Encapsulation for 3D Culture of MCF-7 Breast Cancer Cells. PLoS ONE 8(3): e59482. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0059482

Swisher, L. Z., Syed, L. U., Prior, A. M., Madiyar, F. R., Carlson, K. R., Nguyen, T. A., et al.  (2013) Electrochemical protease biosensor based on enhanced AC voltammetry using carbon nanofiber nanoelectrode arrays. Journal of Physical Chemistry, 117(8), 4268-4277.

Shishido, SN and Nguyen, TA.  (2012) Gap Junction Enhancer Increases Efficacy of Cisplatin to Attenuate Mammary Tumor Growth. PLoS ONE 7(9): e44963.doi:10.1371

Ying Ding and T.A. Nguyen.  (2012) Gap Junction Enhancer Potentiates Cytotoxicity of Cisplatin in Breast Cancer Cells. Journal of Cancer Science & Therapy, 4(11): 371-378.

Shishido, SN and Nguyen, TA.  (2012) Gap Junction Enhancer Increases Efficacy of Cisplatin to Attenuate Mammary Tumor Growth. PLoS ONE 7(9): e44963.doi:10.1371

Kawabata, A., Matsuzuka, T., Doi, C., Seiler, G., Reischman, J., Pickel, L., Ayuzawa R, Nguyen TA, Tamura M.  (2012)  C1B domain peptide of protein kinase Cγ significantly suppresses growth of human colon cancer cells in vitro and in an in vivo mouse xenograft model through induction of cell cycle arrest and apoptosis. Cancer Biology and Therapy, 13(10), 880-889.

Ding Y, Prasain K, Nguyen TD, Hua DH, Nguyen TA. (2012)  The effect of the PQ1 anti-breast cancer agent on normal tissues. Anticancer Drugs, 23(9): 897-905.

Julie Bernzweig, Brian Heiniger, Keshar Prasain, Jianyu Lu, Duy H. Hua and Thu A. Nguyen.  (2011) Anti-breast Cancer Agents, Quinolines, Targeting Gap Junction.  Med Chem. 7(5):448-453.

Gunjan Gakhar, Duy H. Hua, and Thu Annelise Nguyen.  (2010) Combinational treatment of PQ1 and tamoxifen induces increased apoptosis in T47D breast cancer cells.  Anti-Cancer Drugs 21: 77-88.

EM Perchellet, KR Crow, G Gakhar, TA Nguyen, DH Hua, JP Perchellet.  (2010) Bioactivity and molecular targets of novel substituted quinolines in murine and human tumor cell lines in vitro.  Intl. Journal of Oncology 36(3):673-688.

Debarshi Banerjee, D. Madgwick, Gunjan Gakhar, Dolores Takemoto, and Thu Annelise Nguyen.  (2010) A novel role of gap junction connexin46 protein to protect breast tumors from hypoxia.  Intl. Journal of Cancer 127(4): 839-848.

Brian Heiniger, Gunjan Gakhar, Keshar Presain, Duy H. Hua, and Thu Annelise Nguyen.  (2010) Second Generation of Substituted Quinolines as Anticancer Drugs for Breast Cancer.  Journal of Anticancer Research 30(10): 3927-32.

Gunjan Gakhar, Mary Wight-Carter, Gordon Andrews, Sally Olson, Thu Annelise Nguyen.  (2009) Hydronephrosis and Urine Retention in Estrogen-Implanted Athymic Nude Mice.  Veterinary Pathology 46(3): 505-508.

Gakhar G, Diane Schrempp and Nguyen TA. (2008) Regulation of gap junctional intercellular communication by TCDD in HMEC and MCF-7 breast cancer cells.  Toxicology and Applied Pharmacology 235(2):171-181.

Gunjan Gakhar, Takahiro Ohira, Aibin Shi, Duy H. Hua and Thu Annelise Nguyen. (2008) Antitumor Effect of Substituted Quinolines via Gap Junctional Intercellular Communication in Breast Cancer Cells. Drug Development Research 69: 526–534.

Aibin Shi, Thu A. Nguyen,  Sandeep Rana, Dolores J. Takemoto, Peter K. Chiang, and Duy H. Hua.  (2008) Synthesis and Bioevaluation of Substituted Quinolines.  Bioorg Med Chem Lett 18:3364-3368.

J.R. Sabah, B.D. Schultz, Z.W. Brown, T.A. Nguyen, J. Reddan, L.J. Takemoto. (2007). Transcytotic Passage of Albumin through Lens Epithelial Cells.  IOVS, 48: 1237-1244.