In This Section

Toby K. Eisenstein, PhD

Professor, Microbiology and Immunology
Co-Director, Center for Substance Abuse Research

Toby Eisenstein
Contact Information

Contact Information


215-707- 3585



About Me

Research Interests

The major research areas in Dr. Eisenstein’s laboratory are investigation of the effects of opioids, cannabinoids, and alcohol, alone and in combination, on immune responses and resistance to infection. Her group has shown that all three substances suppress functional immune responses in vitro, demonstrating direct effects of these drugs on cells of the immune system. Morphine, given in vivo subacutely, suppressed antibody responses systemically and in the gastrointestinal tract. The effect of withdrawal from morphine on the immune system has been a major focus of her research, and she has shown that both abrupt and precipitated withdrawal induce profound immunosuppression through effects on macrophages and B-cells. Further, withdrawal lowers the resistance of mice to infection with Salmonella typhimurium, which correlates with failure of withdrawn mice to respond to infection with elevation in the cytokine, Interleukin-12. Her group has also found that withdrawal induces a sepsis syndrome that sensitizes mice to the lethal effects of bacterial lipopolysaccharide via increased production of tumor necrosis factor. Recently completed research examined the effect of morphine, alone and in combination with trauma, on susceptibility of mice to Acinetobacter baumannii infection and the role of IL-17A on resistance to this organism. Her laboratory is currently investigating the effect of morphine on SIV infection in monkeys as assessed by changes in functional immune assays, including natural killer cell activity, response to mitogens, and cytokine and chemokine levels. In addition, she is investigating the immunosuppressive effects of cannabinoids with activity at the CB2 receptor in inhibiting skin and organ graft rejection, and the potential of these compounds for clinical use. Further, she is examining drug interactions between cannabinoids, opioids, and alcohol in several tests of immune function.

Education, Training & Credentials

Educational Background

  • PhD, Bryn Mawr College
  • BA, Wellesley College

Digital Bibliography

View PubMed Publications

Reviews/Books/Book Chapters

McCarthy L, Wetzel M, Sliker JK, Eisenstein TK, Rogers TJ. Opioids, opioid receptors, and the immune response: a review. Drug Alcohol Depend 62(111-23)2001.

Eisenstein TK. Implications of Salmonella-induced nitric oxide (NO) for host defense and vaccines: NO, an antimicrobial, antitumor, immunosuppressive, and immunoregulatory molecule. Microbes and Infection 3:(1223-31)2001.

Eisenstein TK, Meissler JJ Jr., Geller EB, Liu-Chen L-Y, Rogers TJ, Adler MW. Nociceptin as an immunoregulatory peptide. NIDA monographs182:(97-100)2002.

Rogers TJ, Bednar F, Kaminsky DE, Davey PC, Meissler JJ Jr., Eisenstein TK. Laboratory Model Systems of Drug Abuse and their Relevance to HIV Infection and Dementia. In “The Neurology of AIDS, 2nd Ed”. ed. H. Gendelman, I. Grant, I. Everall, S. Lipton, and S. Swindells. Oxford University Press. pp. 309-320, 2005... Expand