Jenifer Fenton

Associate Professor

Jenifer  Fenton

M.P.H., University of Michigan, 2003
Ph.D., Michigan State University, 1999
M.S., University of Missouri, Columbia, 1995
B.S., University of Missouri, Columbia, 1993

G. M. Trout FSHN Building, 469 Wilson Rd, Rm 208B, Michigan State University, East Lansing, MI 48824

Phone: (517) 353-3342; Fax: (517) 353-8963

Instructional Activities: 

HNF 461 - Advanced Human Nutrition: Carbohydrate, Lipid & Protein

HNF 826 - Obesity and Chronic Disease

HNF 840 - Human Nutrition and Chronic Disease Prevention

Research Funding

Current Grant Funding:

CTSI Grant Program-Michigan State University. Title: Mass spectrometry to identify lipid and proteomic biomarkers of colon polyp risk.

Agency for International Development. Title: Food and Nutrition Technical Assistance - FANTA III

Past Grant Funding:

National Cancer Institute, NIH: Cancer Prevention Research Small Grant Program (R03): Cancer Cause and Prevention. Title: Effect of dietary omega 3 fatty acids on colitis and colon cancer development

CTSI Grant Program-Michigan State University. Title: Supplement to: Novel Biomarker Detection for Obesity, Inflammation, and Colon Cancer Risk

National Cancer Institute, NIH: Cancer Prevention Research Small Grant Program (R03): Cancer Cause and Prevention Research. Title: Biomarkers of Obesity, Inflammation and Colon Cancer

National Cancer Institute, NIH: Cancer Prevention Research Small Grant Program (R03): Cancer Cause and Prevention Research. Title: Adipokines regulate colon epithelial cell homeostasis.

IRGP New Investigator Award-Michigan State University.Title: Novel Biomarker Detection for Obesity, Inflammation, and Colon Cancer Risk

Research Interests:

Effect of Dietary Factors on Inflammatory Processes of Chronic Disease

Obesity is directly associated with an increased risk of cancer at several organ sites. Adipose tissue secretes hormones that may play a role in the systemic inflammatory state that is associated with obesity and subsequent cancer risk. The adipose-derived growth factors and hormones, like leptin, are elevated in obese individuals and may be related to colon cancer risk in obese individuals. Mechanisms involved in the association between systemic obesity-related hormones and growth factors [leptin, adiponectin, insulin-related growth factors (IGF’s) and interleukin-6 (IL-6)] and colon carcinogenesis. We are studying the colon epithelial cell microenvironment and how epithelial/immune cell cross talk can alter that environment to favor cancer promotion. Dietary reduction of inflammation is a promising approach to cancer prevention. Research suggests that omega-3 fatty acids, dietary fiber and prebiotics, among other dietary compounds, can reduce inflammation. The long-term goal of this research is to understand how obesity increases colon cancer risk and identify dietary approaches to reduce this risk.

Recent Publications:

  1. Gurzell EA, Wiesinger J, Morkam C, Hemmrich S, Harris WS and Fenton JI. Is the erythrocyte membrane fatty acid composition a valid index of intestinal membrane phospholipid fatty acid composition? PLEFA. In Press. April. 2014.


  2. Comstock SALewis M, Kovan B, Hortos K, Pathak D, Fenton JI. Cross-Sectional Analysis of Obesity and Serum Analytes in Males Identifies sRAGE as a Novel Biomarker Inversely Associated with Diverticulosis. PLoS ONE. 2014. 9(4): e95232.


  3. Houghton-Rahrig L, Schutte D and Fenton JI. Nonalcoholic fatty liver disease and the PNPLA3 gene. MEDSURG Nursing: The Journal of Adult Health. 2014. In Press.


  4. Comstock S, Hortos K, Kovan B, McCaskey SJ, Pathak D, Fenton JI. Adipokines and Obesity Are Associated with Colorectal Polyps in Adult Males: A Cross-Sectional Study. PLoS ONE. 2014. 17; 9(1).


  5. Fenton JI, Hord NG, Ghosh S, and Gurzell EA. Long chain omega-3 fatty acid immunomodulation and the potential for adverse health outcomes. Prostaglandins Leukot Essent Fatty Acids. 2013 Nov-Dec;89(6):379-90


  6. Houghton-Rahrig L, Schutte D, Fenton JI, Given B, Hord NG, and von Eye A.  Exploration of a symptoms experience in people with obesity-related nonalcoholic fatty liver disease. Nurs Outlook. 2013 Jul-Aug;61(4):242-251.


  7. Fenton JI and McCaskey SJ. Curcumin and docosahexaenoic acid block insulin-induced colon carcinoma cell proliferation via MEK dependent mechanism. PLEFA. 2013 Mar;88(3):219-26.


  8. Gurzell EA, Teague H, Harris M, Clinthorne J, Shaikh SR, and Fenton JI. DHA-enriched fish oil targets B cell lipid microdomain and enhances ex vivo and in vivo B cell function. J Leukoc Biol. 2013 Apr;93(4):463-70.


  9. Gopalakrishnan A, Rondini EA, McCaskey SJ, Gurzell, EA, Langohr I, Clinthorne J, Gardner EM and Fenton JI. Supplementation with galacto-oligosaccharides increases the percentage of natural killer cells and reduces colitis severity in SMAD3-deficient mice. J of Nutr. 2012:142(5).


  10. McCaskey SJ, Rondini EA, Clinthorne J, Langohr I, Gardner EM, Fenton JI. Increased presence of effector lymphocytes during Helicobacter hepaticus-induced colitis. World J Gastroenterol. 2012 April 7; 18(13): 1459-1469.


  11. McCaskey SJ, Rondini EA, and Langohr I, Fenton JI. Differential effects of energy balance on experimentally-induced colitis. World J Gastroenterol 2012 Feb 21;18(7):627-36.


  12. Rondini EA, Avery AH, Steibel JP, Hursting SD and Fenton JI. Interaction of estrogen and energy balance alters serum inflammatory markers in C57BL/6N mice leading to colon cancer cell proliferation via an estrogen/insulin mediated mechanism. Mol Carcinog. 2011 May;50(5):370-82.


  13. Woodworth HL, McCaskey SJ, Clinthorne J, Langohr I, Duriancik D, Gardner EM, Fenton JI. Dietary fish oil alters T lymphocyte cell populations and exacerbates disease in a mouse model of inflammatory colitis. Cancer Res. 2010 Oct 15;70(20):7960-9.


  14. Clinthorne JF, Adams DJ, Fenton JI, Ritz BW and Gardner EM. Short-term re-feeding of previously energy-restricted C57/BL6 male mice improves nutritional status and restores natural killer cell function after primary influenza infection. J Nutr. 2010 Aug; 140(8):1495-501.


  15. Fenton, JI and Birmingham, JM. Adipokines and colon carcinogenesis: Adiponectin attenuates interleukin-6-induced carcinoma cell proliferation via STAT-3. Molecular Carcinogenesis. 2010 Jul; 49(7):700-9.


  16. Fenton, JI, McCaskey SJ, and Woodworth HL. Molecular mechanisms of obesity, inflammation and cancer: The use of in vitro model approaches for targeted prevention strategies. Open Obesity Journal. 2010; 2:23-37.