Tammara Watts

Positions:

Associate Professor of Head and Neck Surgery & Communication Sciences

Head and Neck Surgery & Communication Sciences
School of Medicine

Member of the Duke Cancer Institute

Duke Cancer Institute
School of Medicine

Education:

B.A. 1995

University of Virginia

M.D. 2004

University of Maryland, Baltimore

Ph.D. 2005

University of Maryland, Baltimore

Otolaryngology Resident, Otolaryngology

Medical College of Georgia School of Medicine

Facial Plastics & Microvascular Reconstruction Fellow, Otolaryngology

Oregon Health and Science University, School of Medicine

Grants:

Overcoming Cisplatin Resistance in Head and Neck Cancer with Crenolanib, a PDGFR-¿ Small Molecule Inhibitor

Administered By
Head and Neck Surgery & Communication Sciences
Awarded By
Elsa U. Pardee Foundation
Role
Principal Investigator
Start Date
End Date

Targeting Mesenchymal Stem Cells in Head and Neck Cancer

Administered By
Head and Neck Surgery & Communication Sciences
Awarded By
National Institutes of Health
Role
Principal Investigator
Start Date
End Date

Targeting the Tumor Microenvironment in Oral Cavity and Oropharyngeal Squamous Cell Carcinoma

Administered By
Head and Neck Surgery & Communication Sciences
Awarded By
Triological Society
Role
Principal Investigator
Start Date
End Date

Publications:

Impairment of Tissue-Resident Mesenchymal Stem Cells in Chronic Ulcerative Colitis and Crohn's Disease.

BACKGROUND AND AIMS: Little is known about the presence and function of tissue-resident mesenchymal stem cells [MtSCs] within the gastrointestinal mucosa in health and inflammatory bowel disease [IBD]. The contribution of MtSCs to the generation of inflammatory fibroblasts during IBD is also poorly understood. We hypothesized that IBD-MtSCs are impaired and contribute to the generation of the pathological myofibroblasts in IBD. METHODS: In a cohort of clinically and endoscopically active IBD patients and normal controls, we used quantitative RT-PCR and stem cell differentiation assays, as well as confocal microscopy, to characterize MtSCs. RESULTS: Expression of two stem cell markers, Oct4 and ALDH1A, was increased in the inflamed IBD colonic mucosa and correlated with an increase of the mesenchymal lineage marker Grem1 in ulcerative colitis [UC], but not Crohn's disease [CD]. Increased proliferation and aberrant differentiation of Oct4+Grem1+ MtSC-like cells was observed in UC, but not in CD colonic mucosa. In contrast to normal and UC-derived MtSCs, CD-MtSCs lose their clonogenic and most of their differentiation capacities. Our data also suggest that severe damage to these cells in CD may account for the pathological PD-L1low phenotype of CD myofibroblasts. In contrast, aberrant differentiation of MtSCs appears to be involved in the appearance of pathological partially differentiated PD-L1high myofibroblasts within the inflammed colonic mucosa in UC. CONCLUSION: Our data show, for the first time, that the progenitor functions of MtSCs are differentially impaired in CD vs UC, providing a scientific rationale for the use of allogeneic MSC therapy in IBD, and particularly in CD.
Authors
Grim, C; Noble, R; Uribe, G; Khanipov, K; Johnson, P; Koltun, WA; Watts, T; Fofanov, Y; Yochum, GS; Powell, DW; Beswick, EJ; Pinchuk, IV
MLA Citation
Grim, Carl, et al. “Impairment of Tissue-Resident Mesenchymal Stem Cells in Chronic Ulcerative Colitis and Crohn's Disease.J Crohns Colitis, vol. 15, no. 8, Aug. 2021, pp. 1362–75. Pubmed, doi:10.1093/ecco-jcc/jjab001.
URI
https://scholars.duke.edu/individual/pub1496091
PMID
33506258
Source
pubmed
Published In
J Crohns Colitis
Volume
15
Published Date
Start Page
1362
End Page
1375
DOI
10.1093/ecco-jcc/jjab001

Activation PDGFR-α/AKT Mediated Signaling Pathways in Oral Squamous Cell Carcinoma by Mesenchymal Stem/Stromal Cells Promotes Anti-apoptosis and Decreased Sensitivity to Cisplatin

Desmoplasia, a hallmark of a head and neck cancer, has both biologic and physiologic effects on cancer progression and chemotherapeutic response. Mesenchymal stem/stromal cells (MSCs), also known as mesenchymal stromal progenitor cells, have been shown to play a role in cancer progression, alter apoptotic responses, and confer resistance to chemotherapy in various carcinomas. The pathophysiology of MSCs with respect to tumorigenesis is widely reported in other cancers and is sparsely reported in oral squamous cell carcinomas (OSCCs). We previously reported paracrine mediated PDGF-AA/PDGFR-α signaling to underlie MSCs chemotaxis in OSCC. Given the poor clinical response to primary chemotherapy, we hypothesized that MSCs may alter cancer cell sensitivity to cisplatin through activation of PDGFR-α mediated signaling pathways. Co-culture of MSCs with human derived OSCC cell lines, JHU-012 and −019, resulted in a significant increase in the production of PDGF-AA and MCP-1 compared to cancer cells grown alone (p < 0.005) and was accompanied by an increase in the phosphorylation state of PDGFR-α (p < 0.02) and downstream target AKT at S473 (p < 0.025) and T308 (p < 0.02). JHU-012 and −019 cancer cells grown in co-culture were significantly less apoptotic (p < 0.001), expressed significantly higher levels of Bcl-2 (p < 0.04) with a concomitant significant decrease in bid expression (p < 0.001) compared to cancer cells grown alone. There was a significant increase in the cisplatin dose response curve in cancer cell clones derived from JHU-012 and 019 cancer cells grown in co-culture with MSCs compared to clones derived from cancer cells grown alone (p < 0.001). Moreover clones derived from JHU-012 cells grown in co-culture with MSCs were significantly more susceptible to cisplatin following pretreatment with, crenolanib, a PDGFR inhibitor, compared to cancer cells grown alone or in co-culture with MSCs (p < 0.0001). These findings suggest that crosstalk between cancer cells and MSCs is mediated, at least in part, by activation of autocrine PDGF-AA/PDGFR-α loop driving AKT-mediated signaling pathways, resulting in reduced cancer cell sensitivity to cisplatin through alterations in apoptosis.
Authors
Wang, J; Cui, R; Clement, CG; Nawgiri, R; Powell, DW; Pinchuk, IV; Watts, TL
URI
https://scholars.duke.edu/individual/pub1441687
Source
scopus
Published In
Frontiers in Oncology
Volume
10
Published Date
DOI
10.3389/fonc.2020.00552

Median nerve injury associated with radial forearm free flap harvest.

Authors
Brickman, DS; Watts, TL; Mirarchi, AJ; Wax, MK
MLA Citation
Brickman, Daniel S., et al. “Median nerve injury associated with radial forearm free flap harvest.Otolaryngol Head Neck Surg, vol. 145, no. 6, Dec. 2011, pp. 1057–59. Pubmed, doi:10.1177/0194599811408397.
URI
https://scholars.duke.edu/individual/pub1426669
PMID
21540315
Source
pubmed
Published In
Otolaryngology Head and Neck Surgery : Official Journal of American Academy of Otolaryngology Head and Neck Surgery
Volume
145
Published Date
Start Page
1057
End Page
1059
DOI
10.1177/0194599811408397

Immediate eye rehabilitation at the time of facial nerve sacrifice.

OBJECTIVE: In the setting of known facial nerve sacrifice or injury, patients require precautions to prevent exposure keratitis and the morbidity that follows. One recommended treatment is surgical placement of a gold weight with or without lateral tarsal strip. In patients in whom the facial nerve has been sacrificed, it is unknown whether rehabilitation should be simultaneous or in the perioperative period. STUDY DESIGN AND SETTING: Case series with chart review of patients who underwent immediate rehabilitation of the eye (gold weight and lateral tarsal strip) following facial nerve resection. SUBJECTS AND METHODS: From 1998 to 2009, 52 patients were studied. Postoperative ophthalmologic complications and the need for revision surgeries were measured. RESULTS: A gold weight was placed in all patients, and 48 of 52 (92%) simultaneous lateral tarsal strips were performed. The facial nerve was sacrificed in 51 of 52 (88%) patients, and the remaining patient had a known preoperative facial nerve paralysis. Thirty-six of 52 (69%) required free tissue transfer for reconstruction, underscoring the extensive resections performed. A 1.2-g gold weight was placed in 50 of 52 (96%) patients. Three (6%) patients required gold weight revision with a larger weight and 3 (6%) for extrusion. Eight (16.7%) patients underwent revision of the lateral tarsal strip for ectropion. CONCLUSIONS: No patients developed ophthalmologic complications. Patients undergoing radical surgical resections with known or suspected injury of the facial nerve should be considered for simultaneous rehabilitation of the upper and lower eye.
Authors
MLA Citation
Watts, Tammara L., et al. “Immediate eye rehabilitation at the time of facial nerve sacrifice.Otolaryngol Head Neck Surg, vol. 144, no. 3, Mar. 2011, pp. 353–56. Pubmed, doi:10.1177/0194599810394314.
URI
https://scholars.duke.edu/individual/pub1426667
PMID
21493195
Source
pubmed
Published In
Otolaryngology Head and Neck Surgery : Official Journal of American Academy of Otolaryngology Head and Neck Surgery
Volume
144
Published Date
Start Page
353
End Page
356
DOI
10.1177/0194599810394314

Traumatic hemorrhage and rapid expansion of a cervical lymphatic malformation.

Authors
Bhatt, N; Perakis, H; Watts, TL; Borders, JC
MLA Citation
Bhatt, Nishant, et al. “Traumatic hemorrhage and rapid expansion of a cervical lymphatic malformation.Ear Nose Throat J, vol. 90, no. 1, Jan. 2011, pp. 20–22. Pubmed, doi:10.1177/014556131109000106.
URI
https://scholars.duke.edu/individual/pub1426676
PMID
21229505
Source
pubmed
Published In
Ear Nose Throat J
Volume
90
Published Date
Start Page
20
End Page
22
DOI
10.1177/014556131109000106