Department of Pathology, Microbiology, and Immunology


 Ty William Abel, M.D., Ph.D.     



Associate Professor

Dept. of Pathology, Microbiology and Immunology



 Contact Information



Office Location:

MCN U-2216A

Lab Rm #:  U-2216B-MCN 

Phone: 615-322-9451

Fax: 615-343-7089

E-mail:  ty.w.abel@vanderbilt.edu


Campus Mail Address:

Pathology, Microbiology and Immunology-3rd Fl

MCN C-3321 (2561)


Mailing Address:

Vanderbilt University School of Medicine

Pathology, Microbiology and Immunology-3rd Fl 

MCN C-3321

Nashville, TN 37232-2561







M.D., University of Arizona
Ph.D., University of Arizona
M.S., University of Arizona
B.A., Boise State University



Research Keywords





Research Description



Glioma is a type of brain cancer. The most common type of brain cancer in adults is a type of glioma known as glioblastoma multiforme (GBM). Better treatments for GBM are sorely needed; currently, the median survival for patients diagnosed with this type cancer is only about one year. As with all types of cancer, the more we know about the causes of the disease, the interactions among cancerous and non-cancerous cells, and the molecular pathways that promote disease progression, the greater the likelihood that novel, effective treatments can be devised. In the Abel laboratory, our focus is on cellular mechanisms and signaling cascades that regulate normal neural development and homeostasis, and how aberrant regulation of these pathways might contribute to brain cancer. In particular, we are interested in the putative role of neural stem cells and the transforming growth factor-beta signaling pathway in the pathogenesis of GBM. We use transgenic mice to model human glioma, focusing on genetic perturbations that are relevant in the human disease. Pathways of particular interest include the Ras and Akt pathways, as well as cell cycle regulators such as p53 and Cdkn2a.

We recently developed a novel mouse model of glioma (Abel, et al, 2009, Molecular Cancer Research, 7, 645-653). Glial fibrillary acidic acid (GFAP) is expressed in a subset of neural stem cells in a region of the brain known as the subventricular zone (SVZ). Ras is an key regulatory molecule in the Ras/Raf/MAPK cascade, a key signaling pathway that is hyperactive in human glioma. We used a mouse line that expresses Cre, under the control of the GFAP promoter, to activate oncogenic K-ras in GFAP-expressing cells in the mouse brain. These mice show a marked expansion of the SVZ, a major stem cell compartment in the brain. In addition, the mice develop glioma, which was often in close proximity to the expanded SVZ. Furthermore, the glioma cells expressed markers, including platelet derived growth factor receptor alpha, olig2 and Bmi-1, which are established markers of CNS stem cells. We concluded that activation of oncogenic K-ras in GFAP-expressing cells of the SVZ leads to aberrant migration of these cells into the surrounding brain parenchyma, and that these cells may be the source of the tumor in our model. Ongoing studies in the laboratory, using additonal in vivo as well as in vitro systems, aim to further define the relationships among molecular mechanisms regulating normal CNS stem cells and brain cancer cells.






Frierson, JM, Pruijssers, AJ, Konopka, JL, Reiter, DM, Abel, TW, Stehle, T, Dermody, TS. Utilization of sialylated glycans as coreceptors enhances the neurovirulence of serotype 3 reovirus. J Virol, 86(24), 13164-73, 2012

Xu, BJ, An, QA, Srinivasa Gowda, S, Yan, W, Pierce, LA, Abel, TW, Rush, SZ, Cooper, MK, Ye, F, Shyr, Y, Weaver, KD, Thompson, RC. Identification of blood protein biomarkers that aid in the clinical assessment of patients with malignant glioma. Int J Oncol, 40(6), 1995-2003, 2012

Ghazi, SO, Stark, M, Zhao, Z, Mobley, BC, Munden, A, Hover, L, Abel, TW. Cell of origin determines tumor phenotype in an oncogenic Ras/p53 knockout transgenic model of high-grade glioma. J Neuropathol Exp Neurol, 71(8), 729-40, 2012

Cao, D, Liu, A, Wang, F, Allan, RW, Mei, K, Peng, Y, Du, J, Guo, S, Abel, TW, Lane, Z, Ma, J, Rodriguez, M, Akhi, S, Dehiya, N, Li, J. RNA-binding protein LIN28 is a marker for primary extragonadal germ cell tumors: an immunohistochemical study of 131 cases. Mod Pathol, 2010

Nickols, HH, Chambless, LB, Carson, RP, Coffin, CM, Pearson, MM, Abel, TW. Intramedullary spinal immature teratoma: resolution of quadriplegia following resection in a 4-week-old infant. J Neurosurg Pediatr, 6(6), 586-91, 2010

Chambless, LB, Angel, FB, Abel, TW, Xia, F, Weaver, KD. Delayed cerebral radiation necrosis following treatment for a plasmacytoma of the skull. Surg Neurol Int, 1, 65, 2010

Rush, SZ, Abel, TW, Valadez, JG, Pearson, M, Cooper, MK. Activation of the Hedgehog pathway in pilocytic astrocytomas. Neuro Oncol, 2010

Richard, HT, Harrison, JF, Abel, TW, Maertens, P, Martino, AM, Sosnowski, JS. Pediatric gliomatosis cerebri mimicking acute disseminated encephalomyelitis. Pediatrics, 126(2), e479-82, 2010

Janz, DR, Abel, TW, Jackson, JC, Gunther, ML, Heckers, S, Ely, EW. Brain autopsy findings in intensive care unit patients previously suffering from delirium: a pilot study. J Crit Care, 25(3), 538.e7-12, 2010

Harrison, JF, Richard, HT, Abel, TW, Sosnowski, JS, Martino, AM. Gliomatosis cerebri: report of 3 cases. J Neurosurg Pediatr, 6(3), 291-4, 2010

Antar, AA, Konopka, JL, Campbell, JA, Henry, RA, Perdigoto, AL, Carter, BD, Pozzi, A, Abel, TW, Dermody, TS. Junctional adhesion molecule-A is required for hematogenous dissemination of reovirus. Cell Host Microbe, 5(1), 59-71, 2009

Reddy, N, Abel, TW, Jagasia, M, Morgan, D, Weaver, K, Greer, J. Progressive multifocal leukoencephalopathy in a patient with follicular lymphoma treated with multiple courses of rituximab. Leuk Lymphoma, 50(3), 460-2, 2009

Abel, TW, Clark, C, Bierie, B, Chytil, A, Aakre, M, Gorska, A, Moses, HL. GFAP-Cre-mediated activation of oncogenic K-ras results in expansion of the subventricular zone and infiltrating glioma. Mol Cancer Res, 7(5), 645-53, 2009

Sarangi, A, Valadez, JG, Rush, S, Abel, TW, Thompson, RC, Cooper, MK. Targeted inhibition of the Hedgehog pathway in established malignant glioma xenografts enhances survival. Oncogene, 2009

Mei, K, Liu, A, Allan, RW, Wang, P, Lane, Z, Abel, TW, Wei, L, Cheng, H, Guo, S, Peng, Y, Rakheja, D, Wang, M, Ma, J, Rodriguez, MM, Li, J, Cao, D. Diagnostic utility of SALL4 in primary germ cell tumors of the central nervous system: a study of 77 cases. Mod Pathol, 22(12), 1628-36, 2009

Danthi, P, Kobayashi, T, Holm, GH, Hansberger, MW, Abel, TW, Dermody, TS. Reovirus apoptosis and virulence are regulated by host cell membrane penetration efficiency. J Virol, 82(1), 161-72, 2008

Stevenson, CB, Ehtesham, M, McMillan, KM, Valadez, JG, Edgeworth, ML, Price, RR, Abel, TW, Mapara, KY, Thompson, RC. CXCR4 expression is elevated in glioblastoma multiforme and correlates with an increase in intensity and extent of peritumoral T2-weighted magnetic resonance imaging signal abnormalities. Neurosurgery, 63(3), 560-9; discussion 569-70, 2008

Danthi, P, Coffey, CM, Parker, JS, Abel, TW, Dermody, TS. Independent regulation of reovirus membrane penetration and apoptosis by the mu1 phi domain. PLoS Pathog, 4(12), e1000248, 2008

Sun, DA, Yu, H, Spooner, J, Tatsas, AD, Davis, T, Abel, TW, Kao, C, Konrad, PE. Postmortem analysis following 71 months of deep brain stimulation of the subthalamic nucleus for Parkinson disease. J Neurosurg, 109(2), 325-9, 2008

Valentine, WM, Abel, TW, Hill, KE, Austin, LM, Burk, RF. Neurodegeneration in mice resulting from loss of functional selenoprotein P or its receptor apolipoprotein E receptor 2. J Neuropathol Exp Neurol, 67(1), 68-77, 2008

Bierie, B, Stover, DG, Abel, TW, Chytil, A, Gorska, AE, Aakre, M, Forrester, E, Yang, L, Wagner, KU, Moses, HL. Transforming growth factor-beta regulates mammary carcinoma cell survival and interaction with the adjacent microenvironment. Cancer Res, 68(6), 1809-19, 2008

Valentine, WM, Abel, TW, Hill, KE, Austin, LM, Burk, RF. Neurodegeneration in Mice Resulting From Loss of Functional Selenoprotein P or Its Receptor Apolipoprotein E Receptor 2. J Neuropathol Exp Neurol, 2007

Ehtesham, M, Sarangi, A, Valadez, JG, Chanthaphaychith, S, Becher, MW, Abel, TW, Thompson, RC, Cooper, MK. Ligand-dependent activation of the hedgehog pathway in glioma progenitor cells. Oncogene, 26(39), 5752-61, 2007

Abel, TW, Curtis, M, Lin, DD, Burger, PC, Cummings, TJ. Complex choristoma of the gyrus rectus: a distinct clinicopathologic entity. Am J Surg Pathol, 30(5), 625-9, 2006

Becher, MW, Abel, TW, Thompson, RC, Weaver, KD, Davis, LE. Immunohistochemical analysis of metastatic neoplasms of the central nervous system. J Neuropathol Exp Neurol, 65(10), 935-44, 2006

Stearns, D, Chaudhry, A, Abel, TW, Burger, PC, Dang, CV, Eberhart, CG. c-myc overexpression causes anaplasia in medulloblastoma. Cancer Res, 66(2), 673-81, 2006

Eberhart, CG, Copeland, J, Abel, TW. Brief report: S6 ribosomal protein phosphorylation in autistic frontal cortex and cerebellum: a tissue array analysis. J Autism Dev Disord, 36(8), 1131-5, 2006

Abel, TW, Baker, SJ, Fraser, MM, Tihan, T, Nelson, JS, Yachnis, AT, Bouffard, JP, Mena, H, Burger, PC, Eberhart, CG. Lhermitte-Duclos disease: a report of 31 cases with immunohistochemical analysis of the PTEN/AKT/mTOR pathway. J Neuropathol Exp Neurol, 64(4), 341-9, 2005

Krajewski, SJ, Abel, TW, Voytko, ML, Rance, NE. Ovarian steroids differentially modulate the gene expression of gonadotropin-releasing hormone neuronal subtypes in the ovariectomized cynomolgus monkey. J Clin Endocrinol Metab, 88(2), 655-62, 2003

Abel, TW, Rance, NE. Stereologic study of the hypothalamic infundibular nucleus in young and older women. J Comp Neurol, 424(4), 679-88, 2000

Abel, TW, Voytko, ML, Rance, NE. The effects of hormone replacement therapy on hypothalamic neuropeptide gene expression in a primate model of menopause. J Clin Endocrinol Metab, 84(6), 2111-8, 1999

Abel, TW, Rance, NE. Proopiomelanocortin gene expression is decreased in the infundibular nucleus of postmenopausal women. Brain Res Mol Brain Res, 69(2), 202-8, 1999

Korol, DL, Abel, TW, Church, LT, Barnes, CA, McNaughton, BL. Hippocampal synaptic enhancement and spatial learning in the Morris swim task. Hippocampus, 3(2), 127-32, 1993