Michael Antoni, Ph.D.
Professor of Psychology and Psychiatry & Behavioral Sciences
Description of Research
Dr. Antoni’s research interests focus on examining the effects of stressors and stress management interventions on the adjustment to, and physical course of, diseases such as breast cancer, cervical neoplasia, prostate cancer, chronic fatigue syndrome, and human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) infection. He also has examined some of the psychobiological mechanisms that might explain ways in which stressful events and psychosocial interventions contribute to the adaptation to these diseases. Much of this work specifically examines psychological intervening variables (stress appraisal processes, coping behaviors, and social resources) and biological/physiological variables (endocrine and immune system functioning) that may explain the effects of psychosocial interventions on quality of life and health outcomes in cancer patients undergoing medical treatments. The overarching goal of this research program is to develop theoretically-driven and empirically-supported psychosocial interventions to use in the primary, secondary, and tertiary prevention of cancer.
Dr. Antoni has been funded from the NIH/NCI to conduct multiple randomized clinical trials of a group-based cognitive behavioral stress management (CBSM) intervention he developed for women undergoing treatment for breast cancer, and men and women treated for HIV/AIDS. Dr. Antoni also directed a National Cancer Institute-funded P50 Center for Psycho-Oncology Research (CPOR), conducting biobehavioral research on the interrelationships between cognition, emotions, biological processes, and physical health through several randomized clinical trials that test the effects of CBSM intervention on psychosocial and physiological adaptation in populations at high risk for cancer or those individuals dealing with treatment for breast or prostate cancer. The CPOR conducted 4 clinical trials and managed 5 core laboratories dedicated to providing psychosocial and biological mechanism and outcome data as well as statistical/data management for the 4 clinical trials. A number of program investigators, including those from the Departments of Microbiology and Immunology, Obstetrics and Gynecology, Psychology, Psychiatry and Behavioral Science, and Medicine, have conducted CPOR pilot studies designed to elaborate on biobehavioral pathways explored in the CPOR parent trials. This work has led to individual R01 and R21 projects by program investigators, and some of the cores were used in the design of the BioPsychoSocial Oncology Core, a shared resource in the Cancer Center and the Neuroimmunology Laboratory facility that serves Biobehavioral Oncology investigators. Most of these research efforts have focused on using information derived from studies that examine the effects of field and laboratory stressors to develop stress reduction interventions that are specifically tailored to disease-related biobehavioral pathways, and which are sensitive to the educational levels and cultural characteristics of the target groups. This has resulted in the development of treatment manuals that can be used as a model for conducting intervention research groups. Moreover, this work has led to the development and testing of brief group-based interventions for clinic use, community-based interventions for ethnic minority populations of cancer survivors, and telephone/web-delivered interventions for home-based delivery to patients. This work is unified in investigating the efficacy and underlying biobehavioral mechanisms in explaining the quality of life and health effects of these different approaches. Many of these studies examine behavioral pathways, while biological pathways and inflammatory processes are measured through biochemical and molecular analyses. Finally, investigators explore the relative effects of these interventions among ethnic/racial minorities to better understand health disparities in morbidity among treated cancer patients and survivors.
- Showed that group-based cognitive behavioral stress management improves mood, symptoms, and quality of life; reduces hormonal indicators of stress (serum cortisol), and increases cellular immune system functioning and Th1 cytokine production over a 12-month period in women undergoing treatment for breast cancer.
- Demostrated for the first time that group-based stress management alters leukocyte transcriptional dynamics in breast cancer patients with decreased expression of pro-inflammatory genes for cytokines (IL-1, IL-6, TNF-), and chemokines (CCL2, CCL3, CCL3L1, tissue remodeling and epithelial-mesenchymal transition (G0S2, LMNA, MMP9, OSM) at 6 and 12-month follow-up. These changes were paralleled by increased expression of Type-I interferon activation genes. Bioinformatics analyses implicated alterations in NF B and GATA transcripts and in glucocorticoid receptor sensitivity in mediating these changes.
- Showed that CBSM decreases perceived stress and reduces the odds of progression of cervical neoplasias in women co-infected with HIV and Human Papillomavirus (HPV) as well as improving immune system reconstitution and decreasing HIV viral RNA in other HIV-infected populations.
Selected Cancer-Related Publications
- Steel JL, Kim KH, Dew MA, Unruh ML, Antoni MH, Olek MC, Geller DA, Carr BI, Butterfield LH, Gamblin TC. Cancer-related symptom clusters, eosinophils, and survival in hepatobiliary cancer: an exploratory study. J Pain Symptom Manage 39:859-71, 2010 Read more »
- Vargas S, Wohlgemuth WK, Antoni MH, Lechner SC, Holley HA, Carver CS. Sleep dysfunction and psychosocial adaptation among women undergoing treatment for non-metastatic breast cancer. Psychooncology 19:669-73, 2010 Read more »
- Lutgendorf SK, Sood AK, Antoni MH. Host factors and cancer progression: biobehavioral signaling pathways and interventions. J Clin Oncol 28:4094-9, 2010 Read more »
- Blomberg BB, Alvarez JP, Diaz A, Romero MG, Lechner SC, Carver CS, Holley H, Antoni MH. Psychosocial adaptation and cellular immunity in breast cancer patients in the weeks after surgery: An exploratory study. J Psychosom Res 67:369-76, 2009. Read more »
- McGregor BA, Antoni MH. Psychological intervention and health outcomes among women treated for breast cancer: A review of stress pathways and biological mediators. Brain Behav Immun 23:159-66, 2009. Read more »
- Antoni MH, Lechner S, Diaz A, Vargas S, Holley H, Phillips K, McGregor B, Carver CS, Blomberg B. Cognitive behavioral stress management effects on psychosocial and physiological adaptation in women undergoing treatment for breast cancer. Brain Behav Immun 23:580-91, 2009. Read more »
- Fekete EM, Antoni MH, Lopez CR, Durán RE, Penedo FJ, Bandiera FC, Fletcher MA, Klimas N, Kumar M, Schneiderman N. Men's serostatus disclosure to parents: associations among social support, ethnicity, and disease status in men living with HIV. Brain Behav Immun 23:693-9, 2009. Read more »
- Traeger L, Penedo FJ, Gonzalez JS, Dahn JR, Lechner SC, Schneiderman N, Antoni MH. Illness perceptions and emotional well-being in men treated for localized prostate cancer. J Psychosom Res 67:389-97, 2009. Read more »
Leader of the Multidisciplinary Research Program: Biobehavioral Oncology Program