Kathleen F. Arcaro

Kathleen F. Arcaro

Professor of Environmental Toxicology

Office phone: 413-577-1823

Email: karcaro [at] vasci [dot] umass [dot] edu

Office location: N225 LSL

Mailing address:

University of Massachusetts
240 Thatcher Road
LSL 1 Room N225
Amherst, MA 01003-9298

Ph.D.: Rutgers University, 1987
Postdoctoral Training:
University at Albany
Wadsworth Laboratories,
New York State Department of Health

Awards: CNRE Achievement Award for Outstanding Teaching

ANIMLSCI 385 - Biotechnology
ANIMLSCI 494GI - Good Intentions


Environmental Toxicology

One of the goals of environmental toxicologists is to understand the relationship between exposure to toxicants and disease. The research in my laboratory focuses on a heterogeneous group of environmental pollutants referred to as “endocrine disruptors”. Endocrine disruptors may mimic, block, or alter the metabolism of endogenous hormones and have been implicated in the decline of amphibian populations and the etiology of some cancers. Many pesticides, herbicides, industrial pollutants, pharmaceuticals, and household products are potential endocrine disruptors.

The research in my laboratory is aimed at understanding the human health effects of exposure to complex mixtures of environmental pollutants with emphasis on estrogenic and antiestrogenic pollutants. There presently are three major funded projects in the lab: 1) breast milk as a marker of exposure, effect and breast cancer risk, 2) signaling pathways in estrogen receptor-negative breast cancer and, 3) bioassays for detection of endocrine disruptors in water ways.

Breast Milk and Breast Milk Cells: Biomarkers of Exposure, Effect and Genetic Susceptibility to Breast Cancer
Breast milk is an ideal human fluid for studying the relationship between exposure to pollutants and breast cancer risk because it contains lipophilic compounds implicated in the etiology of breast cancer and exfoliated breast epithelial cells. We have ongoing studies in which we are analyzing the relationship between pollutants in milk and levels of DNA damage, changes in gene expression and promoter hypermethylation in the exfoliated breast epithelial cells.

Signaling Pathways in Estrogen Receptor-Negative Breast Cancer
Estrogen receptor tumor status is an important clinical characteristic of breast cancer, which correlates with patients’ prognosis, response to hormone therapy, and overall survival. Tamoxifen, a landmark drug that acts as an anti-estrogen in the therapy of hormone-dependent breast cancers, reduces disease recurrence in patients with estrogen receptor-positive tumors, but is ineffective against estrogen receptor-negative tumors. Additionally, some tumors do not respond to tamoxifen treatment despite estrogen receptor-positive status, and some tumors that initially respond to tamoxifen eventually acquire tamoxifen-resistance resulting in a more aggressive tumor with poorer prognosis. Using a recently derived, tamoxifen-selected, estrogen receptor-negative breast cancer cell line, we have identified several genes that are differentially regulated in breast cancer. One gene, mitogen-inducible gene 2 (MIG2) is the subject of a recent publication.

Gene Expression in the Freshwater Japanese Medaka (Oryzias latipes): A Sensitive Biomarker for Exposure to Endocrine Disrupting Compounds
The Japanese medaka is a small freshwater, temperate zone, fish that breeds readily in the laboratory and can tolerate local waters year round making it ideal for toxicological studies both in the laboratory and in the field. We are using medaka to develop and optimize sensitive, reliable, and inexpensive assays for detecting endocrine disrupting compounds in water ways. Many pollutants in water quickly concentrate in fish and can be measured by the changes in gene expression that they produce. Using real time reverse-transcriptase PCR we have found that exposing male medaka to concentrations as low as one picomolar of 17 b -estradiol for as little as 48 hours results in a significant increase in the estrogen-responsive gene, Vitellogenin. By examining the mRNA levels of Vitellogenin, and other estrogen-responsive genes in male medaka we can determine if they have been exposed to any estrogens in the water. Likewise, examination of mRNA levels of androgen- or dioxin-like-responsive genes can alert us to the presence of the pollutants in the water. Thus, medaka can serve as sentinels for the detection of endocrine disrupting compounds in water.

Murphy J, Sherman ME, Browne EP, Caballero AI, Punska EC, Pfeiffer RM, Yang HP, Lee M, Yang H, Gierach GL et al..  2016.  Potential of breastmilk analysis to inform early events in breast carcinogenesis: rationale and considerations.. Breast Cancer Res Treat. 157(1):13-22.
Fitzgerald LM, Browne EP, Christie KD, Punska EC, Simmons LO, Williams KE, Pentecost BT, M Jawale R, Otis CN, Arcaro KF.  2016.  ELF5 and DOK7 regulation in anti-estrogen treated cells and tumors.. Cancer Cell Int. 16:8.
Brown SB, Hankinson SE, Arcaro KF, Qian J, Reeves KW.  2016.  Depression, Antidepressant Use, and Postmenopausal Breast Cancer Risk.. Cancer Epidemiol Biomarkers Prev. 25(1):158-64.
Yang HP, Schneider SS, Chisholm CM, Browne EP, Mahmood S, Gierach GL, Lenington S, Anderton DL, Sherman ME, Arcaro KF.  2015.  Association of TGF-β2 levels in breast milk with severity of breast biopsy diagnosis.. Cancer Causes Control. 26(3):345-54.
Brown SB, Hankinson SE, Eliassen HA, Reeves KW, Qian J, Arcaro KF, Wegrzyn LR, Willett WC, Schernhammer ES.  2015.  Urinary melatonin concentration and the risk of breast cancer in Nurses' Health Study II.. Am J Epidemiol. 181(3):155-62.
Chen X, Liu L, Mims J, Punska EC, Williams KE, Zhao W, Arcaro KF, Tsang AW, Zhou X, Furdui CM.  2015.  Analysis of DNA methylation and gene expression in radiation-resistant head and neck tumors.. Epigenetics. 10(6):545-61.
Williams KE, Anderton DL, Lee MP, Pentecost BT, Arcaro KF.  2014.  High-density array analysis of DNA methylation in tamoxifen-resistant breast cancer cell lines.. Epigenetics. 9(2)
Browne EP, Dinc SE, Punska EC, Agus S, Vitrinel A, Erdag GC, Anderton DL, Arcaro KF, Yilmaz B.  2014.  Promoter Methylation in Epithelial-Enriched and Epithelial-Depleted Cell Populations Isolated from Breast Milk.. J Hum Lact.
Schneider SS, Aslebagh R, Wetie ANG, Sturgeon SR, Darie CC, Arcaro KF.  2014.  Using breast milk to assess breast cancer risk: the role of mass spectrometry-based proteomics.. Adv Exp Med Biol. 806:399-408.
Sturgeon SR, Arcaro KF, Johnson MA, Balasubramanian R, Zorn M, Jerry JD, Schneider SS.  2014.  DNA methylation in paired breast epithelial and white blood cells from women undergoing reduction mammoplasty.. Anticancer Res. 34(6):2985-90.
Zimmers SM, Browne EP, O'Keefe PW, Anderton DL, Kramer L, Reckhow DA, Arcaro KF.  2014.  Determination of free Bisphenol A (BPA) concentrations in breast milk of U.S. women using a sensitive LC/MS/MS method.. Chemosphere. 104:237-43.
Fagan-Solis KD, Pentecost BT, Gozgit JM, Bentley BA, Marconi SM, Otis CN, Anderton DL, Schneider SS, Arcaro KF.  2014.  SKP2 overexpression is associated with increased serine 10 phosphorylation of p27 (pSer10p27) in triple-negative breast cancer.. J Cell Physiol. 229(9):1160-9.
Nartey T, Moran H, Marin T, Arcaro KF, Anderton DL, Etkind P, Holland JF, Melana SM, Pogo BG-T.  2014.  Human Mammary Tumor Virus (HMTV) sequences in human milk.. Infect Agent Cancer. 9:20.
Patel AL, Chen X, Wood ST, Stuart ES, Arcaro KF, Molina DP, Petrovic S, Furdui CM, Tsang AW.  2014.  Activation of epidermal growth factor receptor is required for Chlamydia trachomatis development.. BMC Microbiol. 14(1):277.
Faupel-Badger JM, Arcaro KF, Balkam JJ, Eliassen HA, Hassiotou F, Lebrilla CB, Michels KB, Palmer JR, Schedin P, Stuebe AM et al..  2013.  Postpartum Remodeling, Lactation, and Breast Cancer Risk: Summary of a National Cancer Institute-Sponsored Workshop.. J Natl Cancer Inst.
Turk CM, Fagan-Solis KD, Williams KE, Gozgit JM, Smith-Schneider S, Marconi SA, Otis CN, Crisi GM, Anderton DL, Kilimann MW et al..  2012.  Paralemmin-1 is over-expressed in estrogen-receptor positive breast cancers.. Cancer cell international. 12(1):17.
Qin W, Zhang K, Kliethermes B, Ruhlen RL, Browne EP, Arcaro KF, Sauter ER.  2012.  Differential expression of cancer associated proteins in breast milk based on age at first full term pregnancy.. BMC cancer. 12:100.
Sturgeon SR, Balasubramanian R, Schairer C, Muss HB, Ziegler RG, Arcaro KF.  2012.  Detection of promoter methylation of tumor suppressor genes in serum DNA of breast cancer cases and benign breast disease controls.. Epigenetics : official journal of the DNA Methylation Society. 7(11):1258-67.
Arcaro KF, Browne EP, Qin W, Zhang K, Anderton DL, Sauter ER.  2012.  Differential expression of cancer-related proteins in paired breast milk samples from women with breast cancer.. Journal of human lactation : official journal of International Lactation Consultant Association. 28(4):543-6.
Browne EP, Punska EC, Lenington S, Otis CN, Anderton DL, Arcaro KF.  2011.  Increased promoter methylation in exfoliated breast epithelial cells in women with a previous breast biopsy.. Epigenetics : official journal of the DNA Methylation Society. 6(12):1425-35.
Wong CM, Anderton DL, Smith-Schneider S, Wing MA, Greven MC, Arcaro KF.  2010.  Quantitative analysis of promoter methylation in exfoliated epithelial cells isolated from breast milk of healthy women.. Epigenetics : official journal of the DNA Methylation Society. 5(7):645-55.
Zhu Z-J, Carboni R, Quercio MJ, Yan B, Miranda OR, Anderton DL, Arcaro KF, Rotello VM, Vachet RW.  2010.  Surface properties dictate uptake, distribution, excretion, and toxicity of nanoparticles in fish.. Small (Weinheim an der Bergstrasse, Germany). 6(20):2261-5.
Chompoosor A, Saha K, Ghosh PS, Macarthy DJ, Miranda OR, Zhu Z-J, Arcaro KF, Rotello VM.  2010.  The role of surface functionality on acute cytotoxicity, ROS generation and DNA damage by cationic gold nanoparticles.. Small (Weinheim an der Bergstrasse, Germany). 6(20):2246-9.
Tao L, Kannan K, Wong CM, Arcaro KF, Butenhoff JL.  2008.  Perfluorinated compounds in human milk from Massachusetts, U.S.A.. Environmental science & technology. 42(8):3096-101.
Gozgit JM, Pentecost BT, Marconi SA, Ricketts-Loriaux RSJ, Otis CN, Arcaro KF.  2007.  PLD1 is overexpressed in an ER-negative MCF-7 cell line variant and a subset of phospho-Akt-negative breast carcinomas.. British journal of cancer. 97(6):809-17.
Johnson-Restrepo B, Addink R, Wong C, Arcaro K, Kannan K.  2007.  Polybrominated diphenyl ethers and organochlorine pesticides in human breast milk from Massachusetts, USA.. Journal of environmental monitoring : JEM. 9(11):1205-12.
Reiner JL, Wong CM, Arcaro KF, Kannan K.  2007.  Synthetic musk fragrances in human milk from the United States.. Environmental science & technology. 41(11):3815-20.
Gozgit JM, Pentecost BT, Marconi SA, Otis CN, Wu C, Arcaro KF.  2006.  Use of an aggressive MCF-7 cell line variant, TMX2-28, to study cell invasion in breast cancer.. Molecular cancer research : MCR. 4(12):905-13.
Name Phone Office
Browne , Eva Research Associate 413-545-0813 LSL N261
D’Andrea , Rachel Undergraduate Research Assistant 413-545-0813 LSL N261
Essa , Angela Undergraduate Research Assistant 413-545-0813 LSL N261
Halabi , Mohamed Undergraduate Research Assistant 413-545-0813 LSL N261
Kania , Thomas Undergraduate Research Assistant 413-545-0813 LSL N261
Keezer , Andrew Undergraduate Research Assistant 413-545-0813 LSL N261
Morin , Marisa Undergraduate Research Assistant 413-545-0813 LSL N261
Novak , Madalyn Undergraduate Research Assistant 413-545-0813 LSL N261
Oyageshio , Oshiomah Undergraduate Research Assistant 413-545-0813 LSL N261
Perkins , Katelyn J.Undergraduate Research Assistant 413-545-0813 LSL N261
Punska , Beth Laboratory Technician 413-545-0813 LSL N261
Riseman , Jackson Undergraduate Research Assistant 413-545-0813 LSL N261