University of Nebraska Medical Center

Karuna Rasineni, PhD

Assistant Professor


Karuna Rasineni


My research focus is on metabolic diseases with emphasis on fatty liver disease of various etiologies including alcohol and high-caloric intake. 

Alcohol-associated fatty liver disease and non-alcoholic fatty liver disease project

Fatty liver, characterized by the accumulation of fat, is the earliest and most common pathology during the development of these two most common chronic liver diseases. Both AFLD and NAFLD are serious public health issues globally. Ninety-100% of alcohol consumers develop fatty liver. Additionally, about 100 million individuals in the United States are estimated to have NAFLD due to a consumption of a high fat/high sugar diet. Since fat accumulation is regarded as the “first hit” that leaves the liver more vulnerable to develop progressive liver injury, it is considered as a prime target for therapeutic intervention.

The goal of our work is to employ metabolism-centric approaches to gain a more complete understanding of metabolic hormone (ghrelin, GLP-1, insulin, liver expressed antimicrobial peptide-2 and adiponectin) mediated alterations in multiple pathways and organ-interactions (gut, pancreas, adipose and liver axis) to promote the development of fatty liver diseases. Our long-term objective is to use the knowledge gained to devise targeted therapies for these diseases that currently have no US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approved treatments available.

Aging and alcohol-associated liver disease project

Aging is a predominant risk factor for the development of advanced chronic liver diseases. Due to substantial increases in longevity, the global number of older adults are increasing, and it is predicted that the global number of older adults will double over the next three decades reaching over 1.5 billion persons in 2050. While studies reported that there is a rapid growth in episodic heavy drinking among the elderly, we must understand how heavy drinking affects the progression of advanced liver disease.

In our lab, we are exploring to identify the age-related structural and functional changes in the gut, liver and adipose tissue and determine how ethanol administration generates more severe liver injury in older vs younger experimental animals.

Current Funding

Role of alcohol-induced ghrelin

Role of alcohol-induced ghrelin in modulating organ crosstalk to promote the development of fatty liver disease

R01 AA028504, NIH/NIAAA


Principal investigator: Karuna Rasineni, PhD

Downregulation of Rab3D

Downregulation of Rab3D: Critical Role in Golgi Disorganization and the Pathogenesis of Alcoholic Liver Disease

Department of Veterans’ Affairs Merit Award


Principal investigator: Carol A Casey

Co-investigator: Karuna Rasineni, PhD

Altered Lipid Droplet Trafficking

Altered Lipid Droplet Trafficking: Role in Alcoholic Fatty Liver Disease

R01 AA020735-011, NIH/NIAAA


Co-principal investigators: Carol A Casey and Mark McNiven

Co-investigators: Karuna Rasineni

Development and progression of alcohol-associated liver disease

Development and progression of alcohol-associated liver disease: Effect of aging

P50, NIH/NIAAA (JIT requested)


Principal investigator: Kusum Kharbanda

Co-investigator: Karuna Rasineni, PhD