Bonetto Lab

The Bonetto Lab at University of Colorado Anschutz Medical Campus investigates the molecular causes responsible for the onset of muscle and bone complications in cancer (i.e., cachexia). Up to 80 percent of patients diagnosed with advanced cancers will develop cachexia, accompanied by progressive body weight loss. This condition is estimated to cause up to 30 percent of cancer deaths, which also means that a third of cancer patients are expected to die OF cachexia rather than WITH cachexia. Cancer cachexia is more frequently diagnosed in patients with certain types of cancer, especially pancreatic and gastric cancer, lung, esophageal, colorectal and head and neck cancer. Although several factors and disease states can promote significant loss of weight, it is important to highlight that the difference between cachexia and regular weight loss (as simply due to reduced food and calorie intake) is that it happens involuntarily, likely also because of metabolic, hormonal and inflammatory changes that cause the body to break down muscle mass uncontrollably. We and others have shown that the development of cachexia in patients with cancer will also increase the toxicity of anti-cancer treatments and reduce their tolerability, thus also negatively impacting patients’ survival. Although the causes of cachexia remain obscure, we now know that imbalances in the levels of several circulating factors (such as hormones, cytokines and growth factors) usually lead to weight loss and wasting of muscles, as well as to loss of bone mass, even in the absence of bone metastases. In particular, a partially unexplored aspect of cachexia represents the connection between loss of skeletal muscle mass and the occurrence of bone loss and osteoporosis, as often shown in patients affected with cancer or undergoing radio- or chemotherapy treatments. Observations from our group supports the idea that skeletal muscle wasting may also play a role in inducing cancer-associated bone loss, thus leading to the hypothesis that muscle and bone are regulated in tandem in cachexia. Aside from musculoskeletal complications, occurrence of cancers such as colorectal cancer also causes perturbations to the liver, especially in its most advanced/metastatic stages. We and others have recently demonstrated that colorectal cancer triggers oxidative-to-glycolytic shifts in hepatic metabolism, along with increased gluconeogenesis and net negative energy balance, which are hallmarks of cachexia. Our group is actively involved in understanding the musculoskeletal complications resulting from abnormal hepatokine secretion in colorectal cancer to the extent of identifying novel cachexia treatments.


Current projects:

Role or RANKL in ovarian cancer-induced musculoskeletal complications

Role of IGFBP1 in the liver-bone-muscle axis in colorectal cancer

Characterization of cachexia in in vivo models of head and neck cancer

Effects of pre-existing obesity in cancer-induced cachexia

Characterization of chemotherapy-induced cachexia

New mediators of pediatric cancer cachexia

Regulation of muscle regeneration in cancer

Identification of novel regulators of muscle and bone loss in aging




Google Scholar


Andrea Bonetto PhD

Associate Professor - Cancer Cachexia Research
  • Pathology (SOM)

Areas of Expertise

cancer cachexia, muscle physiology, muscle pathology, cancer-associated musculoskeletal disease, sarcopenia of aging, IL-6, STAT3, RANKL, chemotherapy toxicities, ovarian cancer, colorectal cancer, tumor-host interactions, muscular dystrophy

Education, Licensure & Certifications

University of Torino, Italy                                                                                             
MSc., Industrial Biotechnology                                  

University of Torino, Italy                                                                                             
Ph.D., Experimental Pathology                                  

University of Genova, Italy                                                                          
Post-Doc, Neuromuscular diseases                         
01/2009 – 01/2010                                                                          

University of Miami Miller School of Medicine, Miami, FL                              
Post-Doc, Cancer cachexia                           
03/2010 – 07/2011

Thomas Jefferson University, Philadelphia, PA                                                   
Post-Doc, Cancer cachexia                           
08/2011 – 07/2013


R21 CA190028-01 (NIH/NCI)
(PQB-3) Roles of skeletal muscle mass in chemotherapy-associated cachexia
09/2014 - 08/2016

V2017-021 (V Foundation Scholar Grant)
Mechanisms and treatment of chemotherapy-induced cachexia and muscle weakness
11/2017 - 10/2019

Research Scholar
Showalter Research Trust

Excellence in Research
4th Cancer Cachexia Conference

132013-RSG-18-010-01-CCG (American Cancer Society) 
Mechanisms of chemotherapy-induced muscle weakness and fatigue
07/2018 - 06/2022

R01 AR079379 (NIH/NIAMS)
Targeting RANKL for the treatment of muscle and bone defects in cachexia
07/2021 - 06/2026

R01 AR080051 (NIH/NIAMS)
IGFBP1 mediates a liver-bone-muscle axis in colorectal cancer cachexia
08/2022 – 07/2027


-Department of Pathology, University of Colorado Anschutz Medical Campus
-University of Colorado Comprehensive Cancer Center

Pathology (SOM)

CU Anschutz

Academic Office One

12631 East 17th Avenue

2nd Floor

Aurora, CO 80045


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