Faculty Members

Vickie Baracos

Palliative Care Medicine
Department of Oncology
University of Alberta
Cross Cancer Institute
11560 University Avenue
Edmonton, Alberta, T6G 1Z2
Tel: 780.432.8232


My research program on muscle and protein metabolism spans two decades and is related to different physiologic and pathologic states where muscle protein growth or wasting occur, including cancer, chemotherapy, sepsis, injury, diabetes, diet, environmental stress and lactation.

Extensive contributions to the field of skeletal muscle metabolism. My work has contributed to understanding the roles of protein synthesis and degradation in muscle protein balance in a broad range of physiologic and pathologic states. This represents an important scope and is not at the expense of depth in our work, which also details these responses at the level of signals and biochemical mechanisms (ie Lecker et al. 2004. FASEB J, 18:39-51). I have concentrated on the role of cytokines derived from activated macrophages on protein metabolism in skeletal muscle. An early major contribution was the first observation that a cytokine, Interleukin-1, had a direct action to increase protein catabolism in skeletal muscle (Baracos, VE et al. 1983, New England J. Med. 508:553-558) . The importance of that observation was that it described the first tangible link between inflammation, infection and injury and muscle wasting. The role of pro-inflammatory cytokines as "cachectins" has subsequently become developed and these are now believed to be key factors underlying various forms of wasting. This article has been cited thousands of times, as it introduced the concept of muscle protein mobilization in response to factors derived from the immune response. I continue to explore inflammation-dependant muscle wasting (i.e. Zhang et al. 2000, Am J Physiol 279:E196-205; Mackenzie ML et al. Am J Physiol 2005, 289:E 527-E533) and this is an important link in the mechanism of muscle wasting in infection, cancer and injury. At a cellular level, I seek to identify the role of specific degradative system(s) in different instances of muscle wasting (ie Kwak et al. 2004; Cancer Res. 64(22):8193-8).
Research on cancer-associated malnutrition. My longstanding interest in cancer-associated metabolism has expanded and proliferated in the recent past, culminating in my 2003 appointment in the Dept of Oncology. These works span from the cellular and molecular aspects of malnutrition and wasting, the identity of factors that provoke wasting, and the application of nutritional treatments to reduce wasting. My use of rigorous and standardized animal tumor models and dietary designs has been the subject of invited reviews and major conference presentations, and I additionally have a large cohort of related clinical research in progress. The invitation to write Annual Review of Nutrition this year (Baracos VE Cancer –Associated cachexia and underlying biological mechanisms, Annual Review of Nutrition 2006: 26:435-461) summarizes this understanding of the pathophysiology of malnutrition and wasting. 




Publications on cancer-associated cachexia and muscle wasting:
Dodson S, Baracos VE, Jatoi A, Evans WJ, Cella D, Dalton JT, Steiner MS. Muscle Wasting in Cancer Cachexia: Clinical Implications, Diagnosis, and Emerging Treatment Strategies. Ann. Rev Med. 2010 Aug 16. [Epub ahead of print] PMID: 20731602.
Prado CMM, Mourtzakis M, Baracos VE, Reiman T, Sawyer MB, McCargar LJ. Overweight and obese patients with solid tumors may have sarcopenia, poor prognosis and early features of cachexia. International Journal of Body Composition 2010 8(1), 7- 15
Prado CM, Lima IS, Baracos VE, Bies RR, McCargar LJ, Reiman T, Mackey JR, Kuzma M, Damaraju VL, Sawyer MB. An exploratory study of body composition as a determinant of epirubicin pharmacokinetics and toxicity. Cancer Chemother Pharmacol. 2010 Mar 5. [Epub ahead of print] PubMed PMID: 20204364.
Baracos VE, Reiman T, Mourtzakis M, Gioulbasanis I, Antoun S. Body composition in patients with non-small cell lung cancer: a contemporary view of cancer cachexia with the use of computed tomography image analysis. Am J Clin Nutr. 2010 Apr;91(4):1133S-1137S.
Antoun S, Baracos VE, Birdsell L, Escudier B, Sawyer MB. Low body mass index and sarcopenia associated with dose-limiting toxicity of sorafenib in patients with renal cell carcinoma. Ann Oncol. 2010 21(8):1594-8.
Antoun S, Birdsell L, Sawyer MB, Venner P, Escudier B, Baracos VE. Association of skeletal muscle wasting with treatment with sorafenib in patients with advanced renal cell carcinoma: results from a placebo-controlled study. J Clin Oncol. 2010;28(6):1054-60.
Tan BH, Birdsell LA, Martin L, Baracos VE, Fearon KC. Sarcopenia in an overweight or obese patient is an adverse prognostic factor in pancreatic cancer. Clin Cancer Res. 2009 Nov 15;15(22):6973-9.
Kubrak C, Olson K, Jha N, Jensen L, McCargar L, Seikaly H, Harris J, Scrimger R, Parliament M, Baracos VE. Nutrition impact symptoms: key determinants of reduced dietary intake, weight loss, and reduced functional capacity of patients  with head and neck cancer before treatment. Head Neck. 2010 Mar;32(3):290-300.
Prado CM, Birdsell LA, Baracos VE. The emerging role of computerized tomography in assessing cancer cachexia. Curr Opin Support Palliat Care. 2009 Dec;3(4):269-75.
Prado CM, Baracos VE, McCargar LJ, Reiman T, Mourtzakis M, Tonkin K, Mackey JR, Koski S, Pituskin E, Sawyer MB. Sarcopenia as a determinant of chemotherapy toxicity and time to tumor progression in metastatic breast cancer patients receiving capecitabine treatment. Clin Cancer Res. 2009;15(8):2920-6.
Xue, H, Le Roy S, Sawyer MB, Field CJ, Dieleman LA, Baracos VE. Single and combined supplementation of glutamine and n-3 Polyunsaturated fatty acids on host tolerance and tumor response to CPT-11/5-fluorouracil chemotherapy in rats bearing Ward colon tumor (British Journal of Nutrition, 2009;102(3):434-42
Lieffers JRL, Mourtzakis M, Hall KD, McCargar LJ, Prado CMM, Baracos VE, A viscerally-driven cachexia syndrome in patients with advanced colorectal cancer: contributions of organ and tumor mass to whole body energy demands Am J Clin Nutr. 2009 Apr;89(4):1173-9.
Xue H, Field CJ, Sawyer MB, Dieleman LA, Baracos VE. Prophylactic ciprofloxacin treatment prevented high mortality, and modified systemic and intestinal immune function in tumour-bearing rats receiving dose-intensive CPT-11 chemotherapy. Br J Cancer. 2009 19;100(10):1581-8.
Prado CM, Lieffers JR, McCargar LJ, Reiman T, Sawyer MB, Martin L, Baracos VE. Prevalence and clinical implications of sarcopenic obesity in patients with solid tumours of the respiratory and gastrointestinal tracts: a population-based study. Lancet Oncology. 2008; 9(7):629-35.
Evans WJ, Morley JE, Argilés J, Bales C, Baracos V, Guttridge D, Jatoi A, Kalantar-Zadeh K, Lochs H, Mantovani G, Marks D, Mitch WE, Muscaritoli M, Najand A, Ponikowski P, Rossi Fanelli F, Schambelan M, Schols A, Schuster M, Thomas D, Wolfe R, Anker SD. Cachexia: a new definition. Clin Nutr. 2008;27(6):793-9. 
Xue H, Sawyer MB, Field CJ, Dieleman LA, Murray D, Baracos VE. Bolus oral glutamine protects rats against irinotecan–induced diarrhea and differentially activates cytoprotective mechanisms in host intestine but not tumor, Journal of Nutrition 2008, 138(4):740-6.
Xue H, Sawyer MB, Field CJ, Dieleman LA, Baracos VE Nutritional modulation of anti-tumor efficacy and treatment-related diarrhea after acute, high dose CPT-11 chemotherapy, Clinical Cancer Research 2007, 13(23)7146-7154
Wieland BM, Stewart GD, Skipworth RJE, Sangster K, Fearon KCH, Ross JA, Reiman T, Easaw J, Mourtzakis M, Kumar V, Pak BJ, Calder K, Filippatos G, Kremastinos DT, Palcic M, Baracos VE; Is there a human homolog to the murine proteolysis – inducing factor? Clin Cancer Res. 2007, 13(17):4984-92.
Prado CM, Baracos VE, McCargar LJ, Mourtzakis M, Mulder KE, Reiman T, Butts CA, Scarfe AG, Sawyer MB. Body composition as an independent determinant of 5-fluorouracil-based chemotherapy toxicity. Clin Cancer Res. 2007 Jun 1;13(11):3264-8
Hutton JL, Sutcliffe L , Watanabe S, Bruera E, Field CJ, Wismer W , Baracos VE 2006 Dietary patterns in patients with advanced cancer: implications for anorexia –cachexia therapy, American Journal of Clinical Nutrition 84(5):1163-70
Baracos, VE. 2006 Cancer –Associated cachexia and underlying biological mechanisms, Annual Review of Nutrition 26:435-461.