Dr Nithiananthan Asokananthan

Senior Lecturer Clinical Sciences

Dr Asokananthan completed a Bachelor of Science majoring in Botany at Bharathidasan University and a Masters Degree in Life Sciences at Calicut University in India. He then worked at the Cancer Institute in Madras before gaining an Honours in Biological Sciences and a PhD on biochemistry at Murdoch University.

Dr Asokananthan was subsequently employed as a Post-Doctoral position at Harvard University before coming to the University of Western Australia to take up a Research associate position in Prof Geoff Stewart’s laboratory group. Dr Asokananthan had been at UWA for fourteen years contributing to both teaching and research, with the exception of one year spent lecturing in the Department of Biotechnology at AIMST University in Malaysia.


Dr Asokananthan primarily studies inflammatory diseases such as asthma, but has also researched inflammation in chronic prostate disease and cystic fibrosis. As a member of Prof Geoff Stewart’s lab group, he is part of the first research group to demonstrate the association between dust mites and the protease activated receptors in the lung epithelium that bring about the inflammatory cascade.

Much of Dr Asokananthan’s work is now involved in the drug discovery process of anti-inflammatory chemicals in medicines. The chemicals are also checked to see if they could be useful for treating other diseases, including cancer.

Dr Asokananthan is also researching Neo-Natal Respiratory Distress Syndrome. In particular, he is looking at the role of protease activated receptors in the production of the lung surfactant that is responsible for opening up the lungs of children as they are born. In premature infants this surfactant has yet to be produced, so the lungs are not opened properly, which creates breathing difficulties.


Dr Asokananthan lectures in Pathophysiology (NUR213) and Clinical Biochemistry (PHA311) to students enrolled at CDU. He has also taught Bioinformatics, Biotechnology, Genomics, biochemistry and molecular biology at other Universities.

Research funding obtained in the past (1997-2009)

NH&MRC (project grants),
Asthma foundation,WA.
Cystic fibrosis foundation, NSW, Australia.
Project grants from CDU, UWA, and UTA.

Publications in the last 12 years

Julius F Vergiliana, Asokananthan, N, Stewart G A, Activation of the Plasma Kallikrein-Kinin System on Human Lung Epithelial Cells. Biological Chemistry, 2010 391, 1067-77.

Nicole Maria Smith, Pengkai Soh, Asokananthan,N.,  Marck Norret, Geoffrey A. Stewart and Colin Llewellyn Raston. Immunomodulatory effects of functionalised chalcones on pro-inflammatory cytokine release from lung epithelial cells. New J. Chem., 2009, 33, 1869 – 1873.

Kirilak Y, Pavlos NJ, Willers CR, Han R, Feng H, Xu J, Asokananthan N, Stewart GA, Henry P, Wood D, Zheng MH. Fibrin sealant promotes migration and proliferation of human articular chondrocytes: Possible involvement of thrombin and protease-activated receptors. Int J Mol Med. 2006 Apr; 17 (4):551-8.

Goh, H. L., Sharma, A., Asokananthan, N., Bakker, A., Stewart, G. A., and Mitchell, H. W. Lumenal exposure of airway segments to trypsin and synthetic protease activated receptor (PAR) agonist peptides produce distinct bronchoprotective effects. Eur Respir J. 2006 Jan; 27(1):20-8.

Shan L., Emanuel RL, Dewald D., Asokananthan N, Wada K, Torday J S, Wada E, Sunday ME. Bombesin-Like Peptide (BLP) receptor gene expression, function, and regulation in fetal murine lung. Am J Physiol Lung Cell Mol Physiol. 2004;286(1):L165-73.

Hammad H, Smits HH, Ratajczak C, Asokananthan N, Wierenga EA, Stewart GA, Jacquet A, Tonnel AB, Pestel J. Monocyte-derived dendritic cells exposed to Der p 1 allergen enhance the recruitment of Th2 cells: major involvement of the chemokines TARC/CCL17 and MDC/CCL22. Eur Cytokine Netw. 2003;14(4):219-28.

Asokananthan. N, Graham P T, Stewart D J, Bakker A J, Eidne A, Thompson P J, Stewart G A. The house dust mite allergen, Der p 1 activates respiratory epithelial cells via PAR-2 but not PAR-1, to induce the production of pro-inflammatory cytokines from respiratory epithelium. JI  2002 169(8):4572-8

Asokananthan N, Knight D A, Graham P T, Fink J, Bakker A J, Mc William, Thompson PJ, Stewart G A. Protease activated receptors -1, -2 and -4 are involved in Interleukin-6 and -8, and PGE2 release from human respiratory epithelial cells. The Journal of Immunology, 2002; 168(7):3577-85

Stewart G A, Robinson C, Thompson PJ, Asokananthan N, Graham P T, Mc William A. S, Mathaba L. Allergenic peptidase: Enzymatic activity and immunogenicity. Australian Biochemist, 2001; 32: 10-12.

Sunday ME, Haley KJ, Emanuel RL, Torday JS, Asokananthan N, Sikorski KA, Tooyama I, Kimura H, Renda T, Erspamer V. Fetal alveolar epithelial cells contain [D-Ala2]-Deltorphin 1 like immunoreacttivity: d and m opiate receptors mediate opposite effects in developing lung. Am J Res Cell Mol Biol, 2001; 25: (4)

Thompson PJ, Asokananthan N, Knight DA, Stewart GA. Protease activated receptors and the airway epithelium. Clinical and Experimental Allergy, 2001; 1: 107-110.

Emanuel RL, Torday JS, Asokananthan N, Sunday ME. Direct effects of corticotropin-releasing hormone and thyrotropin-releasing hormone on fetal lung explants. Peptides. 2000; 21:1819-1829.

Cullen A, Emanuel RL, Torday JS, Asokananthan N, Sikorski KA, Sunday ME. Bombesin-like peptide and receptors in lung injury models: diverse gene expression, similar function, (1) Peptides. 2000; 21:1627-38.

Knight DA, Asokananthan N, Watkins DN, Misso NL, Thompson PJ, Stewart GA. Oncostatin M synergises with house dust mite proteases to induce the production of PGE(2) from cultured lung epithelial cells. Br J Pharmacol. 2000; 131:465-72.


T: 8946 6678
F: 8946 6847
E: nithiananthan asokananthan
Charles Darwin University
Darwin, NT 0909