Jeffrey M. Peters, PhD

Jeffrey M. Peters, PhD

  • Distinguished Professor of Molecular Toxicology & Carcinogenesis
  • Deputy Director, The Penn State Cancer Institute
312 Life Sciences Building
University Park, PA 16802

Areas of Expertise

  • Molecular toxicology and carcinogenesis
  • Nuclear receptors
  • Peroxisome proliferator-activated receptors
  • Cancer
  • Lipid metabolism


  • Postdoctoral fellowship, National Cancer Institute, Bethesda, MD
  • Postdoctoral fellowship, Institute of Toxicology and Environmental Health, University of California, Davis, CA
  • PhD, Nutrition Science, University of California, Davis, CA
  • BS, Dietetics, University of California, Davis, CA

Graduate Programs

  • Molecular Cellular Integrative Biosciences (MCIBS)
  • Biochemistry, Microbiology and Molecular Biology
  • Pathobiology


Our laboratory studies the role of the peroxisome proliferator-activated receptors (PPARs) in the regulation of homeostasis, toxicology and carcinogenesis. PPARs are members of the nuclear receptor superfamily and are critical modulators of environmental and dietary stimulii. For example fatty acids and metabolic derivatives of fatty acids derived primarily from dietary sources are known ligands that can activate PPARs. Moreover, environmental chemicals can also activate PPARs, such as perfluorinated chemicals and phthalate monesters that are currently a major health concern. Acting as regulatory transcription factors, the PPARs modulate gene expression of target genes containing peroxisome proliferator responsive elements in response to ligand activation. Numerous genes that modulate lipid metabolism are regulated by PPARα, PPARβ/δ and PPARγ ligands/activators, and are clinically relevant for a number of diseases including diabetes, obesity, atherosclerosis and cancer. In addition to transcriptional regulation, PPARs can also epigenetically regulate transcription by interacting with other proteins including NF-κB. Our laboratory uses “knockout", transgenic mouse models, and high affinity agonists and antagonists to delineate the roles of PPARs, with a particular interest in epithelial and liver cancer. Through our studies, we are elucidating the molecular mechanisms by which exogenous (dietary) and endogenous (metabolic sources) lipids specifically modulate human health. We are particularly interested in delineating how natural compounds found in dietary constituents can activate PPARs with the goal of identifying new molecules/proteins that can be targeted with existing approaches to improve the efficacy of chemoprevention and chemotherapy. Our studies will likely lead to the identification of specific macronutrients that will effectively activate PPARs so that dietary formulations of agricultural products can be developed that will improve human and animal health and prevent serious diseases.


Perfluorooctane sulfonate alters gut microbiota-host metabolic homeostasis in mice.
Toxicology, Zhang, L, Rimal, B, Nichols, R, Tian, Y, Smith, Philip, Hatzakis, E, Chang, S, Butenhoff, J, Peters, Jeffrey, Patterson, Andrew, 2020

Regulatory mechanisms mediated by peroxisome proliferator-activated receptor-β/δ in skin cancer
Molecular Carcinogenesis, Peters, Jeffrey M., Kim, Dae J., Bility, Moses T., Borland, Michael G., Zhu, Bokai, Gonzalez, Frank J., 2019

Lipid metabolism and lipophagy in cancer
Biochemical and Biophysical Research Communications, Maan, Meenu, Peters, Jeffrey Maurice, Dutta, Mainak, Patterson, Andrew David, 2018

Inhibition of tumorigenesis by peroxisome proliferator-activated receptor (PPAR)-dependent cell cycle blocks in human skin carcinoma cells
Toxicology, Borland, Michael G., Kehres, Ellen M., Lee, Christina, Wagner, Ashley L., Shannon, Brooke E., Albrecht, Prajakta P., Zhu, Bokai, Gonzalez, Frank J., Peters, Jeffrey M., 2018

Perfluorooctane sulfonate-induced hepatic steatosis in male sprague dawley rats is not attenuated by dietary choline supplementation
Toxicological Sciences, Bagley, Bradford D., Chang, Shu Ching, Ehresman, David J., Eveland, Alan, Zitzow, Jeremiah D., Parker, George A., Peters, Jeffrey Maurice, Wallace, Kendall B., Butenhoff, John L., 2017

PPARβ/δ and PPARγ inhibit melanoma tumorigenicity by modulating inflammation and apoptosis
Toxicological Sciences, Borland, Michael G., Yao, Pei Li, Kehres, Ellen M., Lee, Christina, Pritzlaff, Amanda M., Ola, Elizabeth, Wagner, Ashley L., Shannon, Brooke E., Albrecht, Prajakta P., Zhu, Bokai, Kang, Boo Hyon, Robertson, Gavin P., Gonzalez, Frank J., Peters, Jeffrey M., 2017

Four-week dietary supplementation with 10- and/or 15-fold basal choline caused decreased body weight in Sprague Dawley rats
Toxicology and Industrial Health, Bagley, Bradford D., Chang, Shu Ching, Ehresman, David J., Eveland, Alan, Parker, George A., Peters, Jeffrey M., Butenhoff, John L., 2017

Peroxisome proliferator-activated receptor-β/δ inhibits human neuroblastoma cell tumorigenesis by inducing p53- and SOX2-mediated cell differentiation
Molecular Carcinogenesis, Yao, Pei Li, Chen, Liping, Dobrzański, Tomasz P., Zhu, Bokai, Kang, Boo Hyon, Müller, Rolf, Gonzalez, Frank J., Peters, Jeffrey M., 2017

Isolation, characterization, and purification of macrophages from tissues affected by obesity-related inflammation
Journal of Visualized Experiments, Allen, Joselyn N., Dey, Adwitia, Nissly, Ruth, Fraser, James, Yu, Shan, Balandaram, Gayathri, Peters, Jeffrey M., Hankey-Giblin, Pamela A., 2017

Peroxisome proliferator-activated receptor-β/δ modulates mast cell phenotype
Immunology, Yao, Pei Li, Morales, Jose L., Gonzalez, Frank J., Peters, Jeffrey M., 2017

Regulation of cytochrome P450 2B10 (CYP2B10) expression in liver by peroxisome proliferator-activated receptor-β/δ modulation of SP1 promoter occupancy
Journal of Biological Chemistry, Koga, Takayuki, Yao, Pei Li, Goudarzi, Maryam, Murray, Iain A., Balandaram, Gayathri, Gonzalez, Frank J., Perdew, Gary H., Fornace, Albert J., Peters, Jeffrey M., 2016

Perfluorooctane sulfonate-choline ion pair formation
Toxicological Sciences, Zhang, Limin, Krishnan, Prasad, Ehresman, David J., Smith, Philip B., Dutta, Mainak, Bagley, Bradford D., Chang, Shu Ching, Butenhoff, John L., Patterson, Andrew D., Peters, Jeffrey M., 2016

Peroxisome proliferator-activated receptor-D (PPARD) coordinates mouse spermatogenesis by modulating extracellular signal-regulated kinase (ERK)-dependent signaling
Journal of Biological Chemistry, Yao, Pei Li, Chen, Li Ping, Hess, Rex A., Müller, Rolf, Gonzalez, Frank J., Peters, Jeffrey M., 2015

M-CSF from cancer cells induces fatty acid synthase and PPARβ/δ activation in tumor myeloid cells, leading to tumor progression
Cell Reports, Park, Jonghanne, Lee, Sang Eun, Hur, Jin, Hong, Eun Byeol, Choi, Jae Il, Yang, Ji Min, Kim, Ju Young, Kim, Young Chan, Cho, Hyun Jai, Peters, Jeffrey Maurice, Ryoo, Seung Bum, Kim, Young Tae, Kim, Hyo Soo, 2015

Comparative in vivo and in vitro analysis of possible estrogenic effects of perfluorooctanoic acid
Toxicology, Yao, Pei Li, Ehresman, David J., Rae, Jessica M.Caverly, Chang, Shu Ching, Frame, Steven R., Butenhoff, John L., Kennedy, Gerald L., Peters, Jeffrey Maurice, 2014

The nuclear receptor peroxisome proliferator-activated receptor-β/ δ (PPARβ/δ) promotes oncogene-induced cellular senescence through repression of endoplasmic reticulum stress
Journal of Biological Chemistry, Zhu, Bokai, Ferry, Christina H., Markell, Lauren K., Blazanin, Nicholas, Glick, Adam B., Gonzalez, Frank J., Peters, Jeffrey M., 2014

Cholestasis induces reversible accumulation of periplakin in mouse liver
BMC Gastroenterology, Ito, Shinji, Satoh, Junko, Matsubara, Tsutomu, Shah, Yatrik M., Ahn, Sung hoon, Anderson, Cherie R., Shan, Weiwei, Peters, Jeffrey M., Gonzalez, Frank J., 2013

A species difference in the peroxisome proliferator-activated receptor α-dependent response to the developmental effects of perfluorooctanoic acid
Toxicological Sciences, Albrecht, Prajakta P., Torsell, Nicole E., Krishnan, Prasad, Ehresman, David J., Frame, Steven R., Chang, Shu Ching, Butenhoff, John L., Kennedy, Gerald L., Gonzalez, Frank J., Peters, Jeffrey M., 2013

The FASEB Journal, Krishnan, Prasad, Patterson, Andrew, Ehresman, David, Smith, Philip, Scavello, Margaretha, Chang, Shu-Ching, Butenhoff, John, Peters, Jeffrey, 2013

Analysis of the peroxisome proliferator-activated receptor-β/δ (PPARβ/δ) cistrome reveals novel co-regulatory role of ATF4
BMC genomics, Khozoie, Combiz, Borland, Michael G., Zhu, Bokai, Baek, Songjoon, John, Sam, Hager, Gordon L., Shah, Yatrik M., Gonzalez, Frank J., Peters, Jeffrey M., 2012

Immunomodulatory action of dietary fish oil and targeted deletion of intestinal epithelial cell PPAR δ in inflammation-induced colon carcinogenesis
American Journal of Physiology - Gastrointestinal and Liver Physiology, Monk, Jennifer M., Kim, Wooki, Callaway, Evelyn, Turk, Harmony F., Foreman, Jennifer E., Peters, Jeffrey M., He, Weimin, Weeks, Brad, Alaniz, Robert C., McMurray, David N., Chapkin, Robert S., 2012

NTP-CERHR expert panel report on the developmental toxicity of soy infant formula
Birth Defects Research Part B - Developmental and Reproductive Toxicology, McCarver, Gail, Bhatia, Jatinder, Chambers, Christina, Clarke, Robert, Etzel, Ruth, Foster, Warren, Hoyer, Patricia, Leeder, J. Steven, Peters, Jeffrey M., Rissman, Emilie, Rybak, Michael, Sherman, Claire, Toppari, Jorma, Turner, Katie, 2011

Chemoprevention of chemically induced skin tumorigenesis by ligand activation of peroxisome proliferator-activated receptor-β/δ and inhibition of cyclooxygenase 2
Molecular cancer therapeutics, Zhu, Bokai, Bai, Robert, Kennett, Mary J., Kang, Boo Hyon, Gonzalez, Frank J., Peters, Jeffrey M., 2010

Effect of prenatal peroxisome proliferator-activated receptor α (PPARα) agonism on postnatal development
Toxicology, Palkar, Prajakta S., Anderson, Cherie R., Ferry, Christina H., Gonzalez, Frank J., Peters, Jeffrey M., 2010

A natural propenoic acid derivative activates peroxisome proliferator-activated receptor-β/δ (PPARβ/δ)
Life Sciences, Genovese, Salvatore, Foreman, Jennifer E., Borland, Michael G., Epifano, Francesco, Gonzalez, Frank J., Curini, Massimo, Peters, Jeffrey Maurice, 2010