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Marlene E Starr, PhD


HKRB 238


  • Associate Professor

College Unit(s)

Other Affiliation(s)
  • Surgery/General
  • Pharmacology and Nutritional Sciences - Joint Faculty
  • Nutritional Sciences Graduate Faculty
  • Surgery/Research

Biography and Education


BS May 2003 Texas A&M University, Galveston, TX Marine Biology

PhD May 2011 University of Texas Medical Branch (UTMB), Galveston, TX Biochemistry & Molecular Biology


Dr. Starr’s research focuses on adipose tissue inflammation. A major goal of her laboratory is to elucidate mechanisms which alter adipose tissue biology in the aged and to understand how this disrupted homeostasis contributes to both acute and chronic illness. Her recent work has identified visceral fat-resident gamma delta T cells as primary contributors to age-associated chronic inflammation. Current projects include comparing immunophenotypes and immune cell function in adipose tissue during aging and obesity, two hugely different conditions which lead to similar pathologies related to cardiovascular disease. Another major focus area of Dr. Starr's research is sepsis, a severe acute inflammatory condition; her lab has shown that adipose tissue is a major source of pro-inflammatory and pro-coagulant mediators during sepsis and that secretion of these mediators from visceral fat may contribute to the development of distant organ injury, especially acute kidney injury during sepsis.

Selected Publications

Adipose-Derived Inflammatory and Coagulant Mediators in Patients with Sepsis. Zwischenberger BA, Balasuriya BK, Harris DD, Nataraj N, Owen AM, Bruno MEC, Mukherjee S, Ortiz-Soriano V, O'Connor W, Ke C, Stromberg AJ, Chang PK, Neyra JA, Saito H, Starr ME. Shock. 2020 Jun 2. doi: 10.1097/SHK.0000000000001579. Online ahead of print. PMID: 32496420 Chronic muscle weakness and mitochondrial dysfunction in the absence of sustained atrophy in a preclinical sepsis model. Owen AM, Patel SP, Smith JD, Balasuriya BK, Mori SF, Hawk GS, Stromberg AJ, Kuriyama N, Kaneki M, Rabchevsky AG, Butterfield TA, Esser KA, Peterson CA, Starr ME, Saito H. Elife. 2019 Dec 3;8:e49920. doi: 10.7554/eLife.49920. PMID: 31793435 Free PMC article. Human Body Composition and Immunity: Visceral Adipose Tissue Produces IL-15 and Muscle Strength Inversely Correlates with NK Cell Function in Elderly Humans. Al-Attar A, Presnell SR, Clasey JL, Long DE, Walton RG, Sexton M, Starr ME, Kern PA, Peterson CA, Lutz CT. Front Immunol. 2018 Mar 6;9:440. doi: 10.3389/fimmu.2018.00440. eCollection 2018. PMID: 29559978 Free PMC article. Late Therapeutic Intervention with Antibiotics and Fluid Resuscitation Allows for a Prolonged Disease Course with High Survival in a Severe Murine Model of Sepsis. Steele AM, Starr ME, Saito H. Shock. 2017 Jun;47(6):726-734. doi: 10.1097/SHK.0000000000000799. PMID: 27879561 Free PMC article. An obligatory role for neurotensin in high-fat-diet-induced obesity. Li J, Song J, Zaytseva YY, Liu Y, Rychahou P, Jiang K, Starr ME, Kim JT, Harris JW, Yiannikouris FB, Katz WS, Nilsson PM, Orho-Melander M, Chen J, Zhu H, Fahrenholz T, Higashi RM, Gao T, Morris AJ, Cassis LA, Fan TW, Weiss HL, Dobner PR, Melander O, Jia J, Evers BM. Nature. 2016 May 19;533(7603):411-5. doi: 10.1038/nature17662. Epub 2016 May 11. PMID: 27193687 Free PMC article. Short-Term Dietary Restriction Rescues Mice From Lethal Abdominal Sepsis and Endotoxemia and Reduces the Inflammatory/Coagulant Potential of Adipose Tissue. Starr ME, Steele AM, Cohen DA, Saito H. Crit Care Med. 2016 Jul;44(7):e509-19. doi: 10.1097/CCM.0000000000001475. PMID: 26646465 Free PMC article. A new cecal slurry preparation protocol with improved long-term reproducibility for animal models of sepsis. Starr ME, Steele AM, Saito M, Hacker BJ, Evers BM, Saito H. PLoS One. 2014 Dec 22;9(12):e115705. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0115705. eCollection 2014. PMID: 25531402 Free PMC article. Inflammatory stimuli induce inhibitory S-nitrosylation of the deacetylase SIRT1 to increase acetylation and activation of p53 and p65. Shinozaki S, Chang K, Sakai M, Shimizu N, Yamada M, Tanaka T, Nakazawa H, Ichinose F, Yamada Y, Ishigami A, Ito H, Ouchi Y, Starr ME, Saito H, Shimokado K, Stamler JS, Kaneki M. Sci Signal. 2014 Nov 11;7(351):ra106. doi: 10.1126/scisignal.2005375. PMID: 25389371 Free PMC article. Increased coagulation and suppressed generation of activated protein C in aged mice during intra-abdominal sepsis. Starr ME, Takahashi H, Okamura D, Zwischenberger BA, Mrazek AA, Ueda J, Stromberg AJ, Evers BM, Esmon CT, Saito H. Am J Physiol Heart Circ Physiol. 2015 Jan 15;308(2):H83-91. doi: 10.1152/ajpheart.00289.2014. Epub 2014 Nov 7. PMID: 25380813 Free PMC article. Age-Associated Increase in Cytokine Production During Systemic Inflammation-II: The Role of IL-1β in Age-Dependent IL-6 Upregulation in Adipose Tissue. Starr ME, Saito M, Evers BM, Saito H. J Gerontol A Biol Sci Med Sci. 2015 Dec;70(12):1508-15. doi: 10.1093/gerona/glu197. Epub 2014 Oct 24. PMID: 25344820 Free PMC article. Sepsis in old age: review of human and animal studies. Starr ME, Saito H. Aging Dis. 2014 Apr 1;5(2):126-36. doi: 10.14336/AD.2014.0500126. eCollection 2014 Apr. PMID: 24729938 Free PMC article. Review. Inflammatory cytokine gene expression in mesenteric adipose tissue during acute experimental colitis. Mustain WC, Starr ME, Valentino JD, Cohen DA, Okamura D, Wang C, Evers BM, Saito H. PLoS One. 2013 Dec 26;8(12):e83693. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0083693. eCollection 2013. PMID: 24386254 Free PMC article. Gene expression profile of mouse white adipose tissue during inflammatory stress: age-dependent upregulation of major procoagulant factors. Starr ME, Hu Y, Stromberg AJ, Carmical JR, Wood TG, Evers BM, Saito H. Aging Cell. 2013 Apr;12(2):194-206. doi: 10.1111/acel.12040. Epub 2013 Jan 30. PMID: 23279636 Free PMC article. PI3K p110α/Akt signaling negatively regulates secretion of the intestinal peptide neurotensin through interference of granule transport. Li J, Song J, Cassidy MG, Rychahou P, Starr ME, Liu J, Li X, Epperly G, Weiss HL, Townsend CM Jr, Gao T, Evers BM. Mol Endocrinol. 2012 Aug;26(8):1380-93. doi: 10.1210/me.2012-1024. Epub 2012 Jun 14. PMID: 22700584 Free PMC article. Age-dependent vulnerability to experimental acute pancreatitis is associated with increased systemic inflammation and thrombosis. Okamura D, Starr ME, Lee EY, Stromberg AJ, Evers BM, Saito H. Aging Cell. 2012 Oct;11(5):760-9. doi: 10.1111/j.1474-9726.2012.00841.x. Epub 2012 Jul 4. PMID: 22672542 Free PMC article. Age-related increase in food spilling by laboratory mice may lead to significant overestimation of actual food consumption: implications for studies on dietary restriction, metabolism, and dose calculations. Starr ME, Saito H. J Gerontol A Biol Sci Med Sci. 2012 Oct;67(10):1043-8. doi: 10.1093/gerona/gls009. Epub 2012 Mar 26. PMID: 22451471 Free PMC article. Age-dependent reduction of the PI3K regulatory subunit p85α suppresses pancreatic acinar cell proliferation. Takahashi H, Okamura D, Starr ME, Saito H, Evers BM. Aging Cell. 2012 Apr;11(2):305-14. doi: 10.1111/j.1474-9726.2011.00787.x. Epub 2012 Feb 1. PMID: 22212451 Free PMC article. The effects of aging on pulmonary oxidative damage, protein nitration, and extracellular superoxide dismutase down-regulation during systemic inflammation. Starr ME, Ueda J, Yamamoto S, Evers BM, Saito H. Free Radic Biol Med. 2011 Jan 15;50(2):371-80. doi: 10.1016/j.freeradbiomed.2010.11.013. Epub 2010 Nov 17. PMID: 21092756 Free PMC article. Age-dependent vulnerability to endotoxemia is associated with reduction of anticoagulant factors activated protein C and thrombomodulin. Starr ME, Ueda J, Takahashi H, Weiler H, Esmon CT, Evers BM, Saito H. Blood. 2010 Jun 10;115(23):4886-93. doi: 10.1182/blood-2009-10-246678. Epub 2010 Mar 26. PMID: 20348393 Free PMC article. Age-associated increase in cytokine production during systemic inflammation: adipose tissue as a major source of IL-6. Starr ME, Evers BM, Saito H. J Gerontol A Biol Sci Med Sci. 2009 Jul;64(7):723-30. doi: 10.1093/gerona/glp046. Epub 2009 Apr 17. PMID: 19377014 Free PMC article. Decreased pulmonary extracellular superoxide dismutase during systemic inflammation. Ueda J, Starr ME, Takahashi H, Du J, Chang LY, Crapo JD, Evers BM, Saito H. Free Radic Biol Med. 2008 Sep 15;45(6):897-904. doi: 10.1016/j.freeradbiomed.2008.06.016. Epub 2008 Jun 24. PMID: 18640266 Free PMC article.

Pubmed Publications