Patients with cancer frequently experience debilitating symptoms that can impair quality of life and reduce odds of survival. These include drastic changes in appetite, sleep/wake cycles, cognitive function, and pain, among others. Our lab aims to uncover mechanistic interactions between the brain and cancer that drive these phenomena. Reciprocally, we investigate how manipulation of specific brain circuits influences cancer processes in the body.
Why do patients with cancer (irrespective of cancer type) frequently experience systemic symptoms like pain, cognitive impairment, deficits in appetite, and disrupted sleep/wake cycles? What is the underlying biology governing these phenomena, and how can this biology be leveraged to improve peoples’ lives? To answer questions such as these, the Borniger lab investigates bi-directional communication between the brain and periphery in the context of cancer. The lab aims to determine how tumors disrupt neural circuit function, how aberrant cellular activity promotes cancer-associated systemic dysfunction, and how reciprocal outputs from the brain regulate cancer growth and metastasis. Specifically, the Borniger lab use techniques from systems neuroscience (e.g., optogenetics, calcium imaging, circuit mapping, electrophysiology, and behavioral assays) to dissect how factors in the tumor microenvironment alter host physiology and behavior. Recent work has focused on how central neuromodulator populations participate in cancer-associated sleep and metabolic disruption. The lab discovered that non-metastatic mammary tumors distally alter immune and endocrine signaling to aberrantly activate lateral hypothalamic hypocretin/orexin (HO) neurons. This resulted in disrupted sleep and hepatic glucose metabolism, the latter being driven by the sympathetic nervous system (Borniger et al., 2018 Cell Metabolism). This research, in combination with clinical work, will facilitate the development of novel treatments to improve outcomes for patients with cancer.
NARSAD Young Investigator Award – Brain and Behavior Research Foundation (BBRF)
Travel Award – American College of Neuropsychopharmacology (ACNP)
W.C. Young Recent Graduate Award – Society for Behavioral Neuroendocrinology (SBN)
Stress, sleep, and immunity
September 9, 2020
Researchers found the brain circuit that connects stress-induced insomnia and the immune system in mice.
Charting a new field of cancer neuroscience
April 16, 2020
A Banbury Center meeting of 35 experts proposes a new field to study the relationship between cancer and neuroscience.
Studying what connects cancer and the brain
January 28, 2020
Assistant Professor Jeremy Borniger joins the CSHL faculty to study the link between the brain and cancer.
June 2018 – Cancer linked to sleep and metabolic disruption (Nature Reviews Endocrinology)
June 2018 – Tumours trigger systemic disruption (Nature Reviews Cancer)
Jan 2017 – Timing of chemo affects inflammation, mice study suggests