Department of Pathology, Microbiology, and Immunology



Louise A. Rollins-Smith, Ph.D



Associate Professor

Dept of Pathology, Microbiology and Immunology

Dept of Pediatrics

Dept of Biological Sciences



Contact Information



Office Location:
MCN A-5119

Phone: 615-343-4119

E-mail:  louise.rollins-smith@vanderbilt.edu 


Campus Mail address:

Pathology, Microbiology and Immunology - 5th Fl

MCN A-5301 (2363)


Mailing address:
Vanderbilt University School of Medicine

Dept of Pathology, Microbiology and Immunology-5th Fl
MCN A-5301
Nashville, TN 37232-2363







Postdoc, University of Rochester, Rochester, NY
Ph.D., University of Minnesota Minneapolis, MN
M.S., University of Minnesota Minneapolis, MN
B.A., Hamline University, St. Paul, MN



Research Keywords



Immunology, Amphibians, Metamorphosis, Antimicrobial Peptide, Chytrid



Research Description



The main focus of my research is developmental and comparative immunology using amphibian model systems. Currently, my laboratory is pursuing a number of questions concerning the development of the immune system and the nature of innate and adaptive immune defenses in frog skin. Understanding the immune defense mechanisms of amphibians has taken on increased importance in recent years because of the urgent problem of global amphibian declines.
One focus of my research is the study of antimicrobial peptides in frog skin in defense against bacterial, viral, and fungal pathogens. Currently, we are using growth inhibition assays to test the ability of purified antimicrobial peptides to interfere with growth of specific pathogens that have been associated with global amphibian declines. Another aspect of the project will be to isolate active peptide fractions from the skin of affected and unaffected frog species to determine whether some species have better peptide defenses against specific pathogens than other species.
Little is known about the conventional adaptive immune response against Batrachochytrium dendrobatidis, a skin pathogen associated with global amphibian declines. Our ongoing studies have shown that B. dendrobatidis releases factors which inhibit lymphocyte responses. Future research will investigate the specific mechanisms by which this fungus escapes immunity.






Holden, WM, Ebert, AR, Canning, PF, Rollins-Smith, LA. Evaluation of amphotericin B and chloramphenicol as alternative drugs for treatment of chytridiomycosis and their impacts on innate skin defenses. Appl Environ Microbiol, 80(13), 4034-41, 2014

McMahon, TA, Sears, BF, Venesky, MD, Bessler, SM, Brown, JM, Deutsch, K, Halstead, NT, Lentz, G, Tenouri, N, Young, S, Civitello, DJ, Ortega, N, Fites, JS, Reinert, LK, Rollins-Smith, LA, Raffel, TR, Rohr, JR. Amphibians acquire resistance to live and dead fungus overcoming fungal immunosuppression. Nature, 511(7508), 224-7, 2014

Holden, WM, Fites, JS, Reinert, LK, Rollins-Smith, LA. Nikkomycin Z is an effective inhibitor of the chytrid fungus linked to global amphibian declines. Fungal Biol, 118(1), 48-60, 2014

Pask, JD, Cary, TL, Rollins-Smith, LA. Skin peptides protect juvenile leopard frogs (Rana pipiens) against chytridiomycosis. J Exp Biol, 216(Pt 15), 2908-16, 2013

Conlon, JM, Reinert, LK, Mechkarska, M, Prajeep, M, Meetani, MA, Coquet, L, Jouenne, T, Hayes, MP, Padgett-Flohr, G, Rollins-Smith, LA. Evaluation of the skin peptide defenses of the Oregon spotted frog Rana pretiosa against infection by the chytrid fungus Batrachochytrium dendrobatidis. J Chem Ecol, 39(6), 797-805, 2013

Fites, JS, Ramsey, JP, Holden, WM, Collier, SP, Sutherland, DM, Reinert, LK, Gayek, AS, Dermody, TS, Aune, TM, Oswald-Richter, K, Rollins-Smith, LA. The invasive chytrid fungus of amphibians paralyzes lymphocyte responses. Science, 342(6156), 366-9, 2013

Groner, ML, Rollins-Smith, LA, Reinert, LK, Hempel, J, Bier, ME, Relyea, RA. Interactive effects of competition and predator cues on immune responses of leopard frogs at metamorphosis. J Exp Biol, 2013

Groner, ML, Buck, JC, Gervasi, S, Blaustein, AR, Reinert, LK, Rollins-Smith, LA, Bier, ME, Hempel, J, Relyea, RA. Larval exposure to predator cues alters immune function and response to a fungal pathogen in post-metamorphic wood frogs. Ecol Appl, 23(6), 1443-54, 2013

Venesky, M.D., Wilcoxen, T.E., Rensel, M.A., Rollins-Smith, L., Kerby, J.L., and Parris, M.J. . Dietary protein restriction impairs growth, immunity, and disease resistance in southern leopard frog (Lithobates sphenocephalus) tadpoles. . Oecologia, 169, 23-31, 2012

Woodhams, DC, Geiger, CC, Reinert, LK, Rollins-Smith, LA, Lam, B, Harris, RN, Briggs, CJ, Vredenburg, VT, Voyles, J. Treatment of amphibians infected with chytrid fungus: learning from failed trials with itraconazole, antimicrobial peptides, bacteria, and heat therapy. Dis Aquat Organ, 98(1), 11-25, 2012

Woodhams, DC, Bell, SC, Kenyon, N, Alford, RA, Rollins-Smith, LA. Immune evasion or avoidance: fungal skin infection linked to reduced defence peptides in Australian green-eyed treefrogs, Litoria serrata. Fungal Biol, 116(12), 1203-11, 2012

Pask, J.D., Woodhams, D.C., and Rollins-Smith, L. A. . The ebb and flow of antimicrobial skin peptides defends northern leopard frogs (Rana pipiens) against chytridiomycosis. . Global Change Biology, 18, 1231-1238, 2012

Gammill, WM, Fites, JS, Rollins-Smith, LA. Norepinephrine depletion of antimicrobial peptides from the skin glands of Xenopus laevis. Dev Comp Immunol, 37(1), 19-27, 2012

Becker, M.H., Harris, R.N., Minbiole, K. P.C., Schwantes, C.R., Rollins-Smith, L.A., Reinert, L.K., Brucker, R.M., Domangue, R.J., and Gratwicke, B. . Towards a better understanding of the use of probiotics for preventing chytridiomycosis in Panamanian golden frogs. . EcoHealth, 8, 501-506, 2012

Rollins-Smith, LA, Ramsey, JP, Pask, JD, Reinert, LK, Woodhams, DC. Amphibian Immune Defenses against Chytridiomycosis: Impacts of Changing Environments. Integr Comp Biol, 2011

Walke, J.B., Harris, R.N., Reinert, L.K., Rollins-Smith, L.A., and Woodhams, D.C. . Social immunity in amphibians: Evidence of vertical transmission of innate defenses . Biotropica, 43, 396-400, 2011

Becker, MH, Harris, RN, Minbiole, KP, Schwantes, CR, Rollins-Smith, LA, Reinert, LK, Brucker, RM, Domangue, RJ, Gratwicke, B. Towards a better understanding of the use of probiotics for preventing chytridiomycosis in Panamanian golden frogs. Ecohealth, 8(4), 501-6, 2011

Ramsey, JP, Reinert, LK, Harper, LK, Woodhams, DC, Rollins-Smith, LA. Immune defenses against Batrachochytrium dendrobatidis, a fungus linked to global amphibian declines, in the South African clawed frog, Xenopus laevis. Infect Immun, 78(9), 3981-92, 2010

Woodhams, D.C., Kenyon, N., Bell, S., Alford, R.A., Chen, S., Billheimer, D., Shyr, Y., and Rollins-Smith, L.A. . Adaptations of skin peptide defences and possible response to the amphibian chytrid fungus in populations of Australian green-eyed treefrogs, Litoria genimaculata . Diversity Distrib., 16, 703-712, 2010

Tennessen, JA, Woodhams, DC, Chaurand, P, Reinert, LK, Billheimer, D, Shyr, Y, Caprioli, RM, Blouin, MS, Rollins-Smith, LA. Variations in the expressed antimicrobial peptide repertoire of northern leopard frog (Rana pipiens) populations suggest intraspecies differences in resistance to pathogens. Dev Comp Immunol, 33(12), 1247-57, 2009

Rollins-Smith, LA, Ramsey, JP, Reinert, LK, Woodhams, DC, Livo, LJ, Carey, C. Immune defenses of Xenopus laevis against Batrachochytrium dendrobatidis. Front Biosci (Schol Ed), 1, 68-91, 2009

Rollins-Smith, LA. The role of amphibian antimicrobial peptides in protection of amphibians from pathogens linked to global amphibian declines. Biochim Biophys Acta, 1788(8), 1593-9, 2009

Abdel-Wahab, YH, Power, GJ, Flatt, PR, Woodhams, DC, Rollins-Smith, LA, Conlon, JM. A peptide of the phylloseptin family from the skin of the frog Hylomantis lemur (Phyllomedusinae) with potent in vitro and in vivo insulin-releasing activity. Peptides, 29(12), 2136-43, 2008

Woodhams, DC, Kilburn, VL, Reinert, LK, Voyles, J, Medina, D, Ib?!??ez, R, Hyatt, AD, Boyle, DG, Pask, JD, Green, DM, Rollins-Smith, LA. Chytridiomycosis and amphibian population declines continue to spread eastward in Panama. Ecohealth, 5(3), 268-74, 2008

Sheafor, B, Davidson, EW, Parr, L, Rollins-Smith, L. Antimicrobial peptide defenses in the salamander, Ambystoma tigrinum, against emerging amphibian pathogens. J Wildl Dis, 44(2), 226-36, 2008

Gibble, RE, Rollins-Smith, L, Baer, KN. Development of an assay for testing the antimicrobial activity of skin peptides against the amphibian chytrid fungus (Batrachochytrium dendrobatidis) using Xenopus laevis. Ecotoxicol Environ Saf, 71(2), 506-13, 2008

Woodhams, DC, Alford, RA, Briggs, CJ, Johnson, M, Rollins-Smith, LA. Life-history trade-offs influence disease in changing climates: strategies of an amphibian pathogen. Ecology, 89(6), 1627-39, 2008

Conlon, JM, Woodhams, DC, Raza, H, Coquet, L, Leprince, J, Jouenne, T, Vaudry, H, Rollins-Smith, LA. Peptides with differential cytolytic activity from skin secretions of the lemur leaf frog Hylomantis lemur (Hylidae: Phyllomedusinae). Toxicon, 50(4), 498-506, 2007

Davidson, C, Benard, MF, Shaffer, HB, Parker, JM, O''Leary, C, Conlon, JM, Rollins-Smith, LA. Effects of chytrid and carbaryl exposure on survival, growth and skin peptide defenses in foothill yellow-legged frogs. Environ Sci Technol, 41(5), 1771-6, 2007

Pandelova, I, Hewitt, SR, Rollins-Smith, LA, Hays, JB. UVB dose-toxicity thresholds and steady-state DNA-photoproduct levels during chronic irradiation of inbred Xenopus laevis tadpoles. Photochem Photobiol, 82(4), 1080-7, 2007

Woodhams, DC, Voyles, J, Lips, KR, Carey, C, Rollins-Smith, LA. Predicted disease susceptibility in a Panamanian amphibian assemblage based on skin peptide defenses. J Wildl Dis, 42(2), 207-18, 2006

Woodhams, DC, Rollins-Smith, LA, Carey, C, Reinert, L, Tyler, MJ, Alford, RA. Population trends associated with skin peptide defenses against chytridiomycosis in Australian frogs. Oecologia, 146(4), 531-40, 2006

VanCompernolle, SE, Taylor, RJ, Oswald-Richter, K, Jiang, J, Youree, BE, Bowie, JH, Tyler, MJ, Conlon, JM, Wade, D, Aiken, C, Dermody, TS, KewalRamani, VN, Rollins-Smith, LA, Unutmaz, D. Antimicrobial peptides from amphibian skin potently inhibit human immunodeficiency virus infection and transfer of virus from dendritic cells to T cells. J Virol, 79(18), 11598-606, 2005

Rollins-Smith, LA, Reinert, LK, O''Leary, CJ, Houston, LE, Woodhams, DC. Antimicrobial Peptide defenses in amphibian skin. Integr Comp Biol, 45(1), 137-42, 2005

Rollins-Smith, LA, Conlon, JM. Antimicrobial peptide defenses against chytridiomycosis, an emerging infectious disease of amphibian populations. Dev Comp Immunol, 29(7), 589-98, 2005

Rollins-Smith, LA, King, JD, Nielsen, PF, Sonnevend, A, Conlon, JM. An antimicrobial peptide from the skin secretions of the mountain chicken frog Leptodactylus fallax (Anura:Leptodactylidae). Regul Pept, 124(1-3), 173-8, 2005

King, JD, Rollins-Smith, LA, Nielsen, PF, John, A, Conlon, JM. Characterization of a peptide from skin secretions of male specimens of the frog, Leptodactylus fallax that stimulates aggression in male frogs. Peptides, 26(4), 597-601, 2005

Rollins-Smith, LA, Woodhams, DC, Reinert, LK, Vredenburg, VT, Briggs, CJ, Nielsen, PF, Michael Conlon, J. Antimicrobial peptide defenses of the mountain yellow-legged frog (Rana muscosa). Dev Comp Immunol, 2005

Christin, M.S., Menard, L., Gendron, A.D., Ruby, S., Cyr, D., Marcogliese, D., Rollins-Smith, L., and Fournier, M.. Effects of agricultural pesticides on the immune system of Xenopus laevis and Rana pipiens. Aquat. Toxicol., 67(), 33-43, 2004

Chinchar, V.G., Bryan, L., Silphadaung, U., Noga, E., Wade, D., and Rollins-Smith, L.. Inactivation of viruses infecting ectothermic animals by amphibian and piscine antimicrobial peptides. Virology, 323(), 268-275, 2004

Rollins-Smith, LA, Hopkins, BD, Reinert, LK. An amphibian model to test the effects of xenobiotic chemicals on development of the hematopoietic system. Environ Toxicol Chem, 23(12), 2863-7, 2004

Rollins-Smith, Louise A, Carey, Cynthia, Conlon, J Michael, Reinert, Laura K, Doersam, Jennifer K, Bergman, Tomas, Silberring, Jerzy, Lankinen, Hilkka, Wade, David. Activities of temporin family peptides against the chytrid fungus (Batrachochytrium dendrobatidis) associated with global amphibian declines. Antimicrob Agents Chemother, 47(3), 1157-60, 2003

Conlon, J.M., Sonnevend, A., Patel, M., Davidson, D., Nielsen, P.F., Pal, T., and Rollins-Smith, L.A.. Isolation of peptides of the brevinin-1 family with potent candidacidal activity from the skin secretions of the frog Rana boylii.. J. Pept. Res., 62, 205-213, 2003

Rollins-Smith, Louise A, Reinert, Laura K, Miera, Verma, Conlon, J Michael. Antimicrobial peptide defenses of the Tarahumara frog, Rana tarahumarae. Biochem Biophys Res Commun, 297(2), 361-7, 2002

Rollins-Smith, Louise A, Carey, Cynthia, Longcore, Joyce, Doersam, Jennifer K, Boutte, Angela, Bruzgal, Judsen E, Conlon, J Michael. Activity of antimicrobial skin peptides from ranid frogs against Batrachochytrium dendrobatidis, the chytrid fungus associated with global amphibian declines. Dev Comp Immunol, 26(5), 471-9, 2002

Rollins-Smith, Louise A, Doersam, Jennifer K, Longcore, Joyce E, Taylor, Sharon K, Shamblin, Jessica C, Carey, Cynthia, Zasloff, Michael A. Antimicrobial peptide defenses against pathogens associated with global amphibian declines. Dev Comp Immunol, 26(1), 63-72, 2002

, 2001

Jeyakumar, LH, Ballester, L, Cheng, DS, McIntyre, JO, Chang, P, Olivey, HE, Rollins-Smith, L, Barnett, JV, Murray, K, Xin, HB, Fleischer, S. FKBP binding characteristics of cardiac microsomes from diverse vertebrates. Biochem Biophys Res Commun, 281(4), 979-86, 2001

Rollins-Smith, L A. Neuroendocrine-immune system interactions in amphibians: implications for understanding global amphibian declines. Immunol Res, 23(2-3), 273-80, 2001

Rollins-Smith, L A, Davis, A T, Reinert, L K. Pituitary involvement in T cell renewal during development and metamorphosis of Xenopus laevis. Brain Behav Immun, 14(3), 185-97, 2000

Carey, C., Cohen, N., and Rollins-Smith- L. Amphibian Declines: An Immunological Perspective. Dev. Comp. Immunol., 23, 459-472, 1999

Rollins-Smith, L A. Metamorphosis and the amphibian immune system. Immunol Rev, 166, 221-30, 1998

Barker, K S, Davis, A T, Li, B, Rollins-Smith, L A. In vitro studies of spontaneous and corticosteroid-induced apoptosis of lymphocyte populations from metamorphosing frogs/RU486 inhibition. Brain Behav Immun, 11(2), 119-31, 1997

Rollins-Smith, L A, Flajnik, M F, Blair, P J, Davis, A T, Green, W F. Involvement of thyroid hormones in the expression of MHC class I antigens during ontogeny in Xenopus. Dev Immunol, 5(2), 133-44, 1997

Rollins-Smith, L A, Barker, K S, Davis, A T. Involvement of glucocorticoids in the reorganization of the amphibian immune system at metamorphosis. Dev Immunol, 5(2), 145-52, 1997

Rollins-Smith, L A, Needham, D A, Davis, A T, Blair, P J. Late thymectomy in Xenopus tadpoles reveals a population of T cells that persists through metamorphosis. Dev Comp Immunol, 20(3), 165-74, 1996

Carlson, D.L., Williams, J.W. III., Rollins-Smith, L.A., Christ, C.G. John, J.C., Williams, C.S., and McKinnell, R.G. Pronephric carcinoma: chromosomes of cells rescued from apoptosis by an oncogenic herpesvirus. J. Comp. Path., 113, 277-286, 1995

Carlson, D.L. Sauerbier, W., Rollins-Smith, L,A. and McKinnell, R.G. The presence of DNA sequences of the Lucke herpesvirus in normal and neoplastic kidney tissue of Rana pipiens. J. Comp. Path, 110, 349-355, 1994

Carlson, D.L., Sauerbier, W., Rollins-Smith, L.A. and McKinnell, R.G. Fate of herpesvirus DNA in embryos and tadpoles cloned from Lucke renal carcinoma nuclei. J. Comp. Path., 111, 197-203, 1994

Kinney, M.C., Hummell, D.S., Villiger, P.M., Hourigan, A., Rollins-Smith, L.,Glick, A.D., and Lawton, A.R. Increased interleukin-6 (IL-6) production in a young child with clinical and pathologic features of multicentric Castleman's disease. J. Clin. Immunol., 14, 382-390, 1994

Rollins-Smith, L A, Blair, P J. The effects of corticosteroid hormones and thyroid hormones on lymphocyte viability and proliferation during development and metamorphosis of Xenopus laevis. Differentiation, 54(3), 155-60, 1993

McKinnell, R.G., Lust, J.M., Sauerbier, W., Rolilins-Smith, L.A., Williams, J.W.,III, Williams, C.S., and Carlson, D.L. Genomic plasticity of the Lucke renal carcinoma: a review. Int. J. Dev. Biol., 37, 213-219, 1993

Rollins-Smith, L A, Davis, A T, Blair, P J. Effects of thyroid hormone deprivation on immunity in postmetamorphic frogs. Dev Comp Immunol, 17(2), 157-64, 1993

Rollins-Smith, L A, Blair, P J, Davis, A T. Thymus ontogeny in frogs: T-cell renewal at metamorphosis. Dev Immunol, 2(3), 207-13, 1992

Lust, J.M., Carlson, D.L., Kowles, R., Rollins-Smith, L.A., Williams, J.W., III, and McKinnell, R.G. Allografts of tumor nuclear transplantation embryos: differentiation competence. Proc. Natl. Acad. Sci USA, 88(), 6883-6887, 1991

Rollins-Smith, L A, Blair, P. Contribution of ventral blood island mesoderm to hematopoiesis in postmetamorphic and metamorphosis-inhibited Xenopus laevis. Dev Biol, 142(1), 178-83, 1990

Rollins-Smith, L A, Blair, P. Expression of class II major histocompatibility complex antigens on adult T cells in Xenopus is metamorphosis-dependent. Dev Immunol, 1(2), 97-104, 1990

Rollins-Smith, L A, Parsons, S C, Cohen, N. Immune responses of intact and embryonically enucleated frogs to self-lens antigens. J Immunol, 145(10), 3262-7, 1990

Rollins-Smith, L A, Lawton, A R. Regulation of B-cell differentiation: anti-mu antibodies have opposite effects on differentiation stimulated by bacterial lipopolysaccharide and 8-mercaptoguanosine. J Mol Cell Immunol, 4(1), 9-19, 1988

Rollins-Smith, L A, Parsons, S C, Cohen, N. Effects of thyroxine-driven precocious metamorphosis on maturation of adult-type allograft rejection responses in early thyroidectomized frogs. Differentiation, 37(3), 180-5, 1988

Rollins-Smith, L.A., Parsons, S.C.V., and Cohen, N. During frog ontogeny, PHA and Con A responsiveness of splenocytes precedes that of thymocytes. Immunology, 52, 491-500, 1984

Rollins-Sntith, L.A., and Cohen, N. Self-pituitary grafts are not rejected by leopard frogs deprived of their pituitary anlagen as embryos. Nature, 299, 820-821, 1982

Rollins, L.A. and Cohen, N. On tadpoles, transplantation, and tolerance. Development and Differentiation of Vertebrate Lymphocytes. J. D. Horton (Ed.) Elsevier/North Holland, Amsterdam, 203-214, 1980