Sylvester Comprehensive Cancer Center

Dominique L. Musselman, M.D.

Dominique L. Musselman, M.D.

Associate Professor of Psychiatry

Description of Research

Dr. Musselman and her laboratory seeks to understand the pathophysiology of cytokine-induced neurobehavioral symptom complexes suffered by patients with cancer, in order to improve their quality of life, compliance with cancer treatment, and reduce premature mortality. In this light, we have examined the effectiveness of selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor (SSRI) antidepressants to prevent and ameliorate interferon (IFN)-alpha-induced depression and interleukin-2-induced neurocognitive dysfunction and other symptoms in patients with malignant melanoma at high risk for recurrence.

Her laboratory also sought to examine the alterations of monoamine metabolism and hypothalamic-adrenocortical axis function of persons suffering cancer-related fatigue, especially patients with head and neck cancer undergoing radiation alone and radiation in conjunction with cisplatin or other agents such as erbitux.

Given that innate immunoinflammatory-induced mood and anxiety symptoms are responsive to the SSRI antidepressants, we have proposed, and hope to utilize, a Sequential, Multi-Arm, Randomized Trial (SMART), to address fatigue and other nsymptoms of the neurovegetative symptom complex which are relatively non-responsive to these antidepressants.


  • Discovered that patients with cancer and major depression exhibited increased plasma concentrations of the pro-inflammatory cytokine interleukin-6, and the highest rates of dexamethasone nonsuppression, in comparison to cancer patients without depression, and individuals with major depression, and normal comparison subjects
  • Found that pretreatment with the selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor antidepressant paroxetine would significantly reduce incidence of major dpression in patients with malignant melanoma receiving IFN-alpha
  • Found that reduction in the incidence of major depression in this population by paroxetine was associated with decreased drop-out

Selected Cancer-Related Publications

  • Musselman D, Royster EB, Wang M, Long Q, Trimble LM, Mann TK, Graciaa DS, McNutt MD, Auyeung NS, Oliver L, Lawson DH, Miller AH. The impact of escitalopram on IL-2-induced neuroendocrine,immune,and behavioral changes in patients with malignant melanoma: preliminary findings. Neuropsychopharmacology 38:1921-8,2013 Read more »
  • McNutt MD, Liu S, Manatunga A, Royster EB, Raison CL, Woolwine BJ, Demetrashvili MF, Miller AH, Musselman DL. Neurobehavioral Effects of Interferon-? in Patients with Hepatitis-C: Symptom Dimensions and Responsiveness to Paroxetine. Neuropsychopharmacology 37:1444-54,2012 Read more »

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