Chu Chen, Ph.D.



Cellular and Integrative Physiology

Chu Chen, Ph.D.


Personal Statement:



B.S., Nanjing University, Nanjing, China
M.S., Zhejiang University School of Medicine, Hangzhou, China
Ph.D., Tulane University, New Orleans
Postdoctoral fellow, Louisiana State University Health Sciences Center, New Orleans


The research programs in Dr. Chen’s laboratory have been focusing on neuroinflammation in health and disease. Neuroinflammation has been implicated in many brain disorders/diseases, including epilepsy, traumatic brain injury (TBI), stroke, amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), multiple sclerosis (MS), Parkinson’s disease (PD), and Alzheimer’s disease (AD).  However, our understanding of the mechanisms underlying neuroinflammation in the pathogeneses and neuropathology of neurodegenerative diseases is still limited.  Importantly, there are no effective therapies currently available to prevent development of neurodegenerative diseases or to halt disease progression.  Research in Dr. Chen’s laboratory is in exploring cellular, molecular, and epigenetic mechanisms responsible for pathogenesis and neuropathology of AD and TBI-caused AD-like neuropathology and in identifying novel therapeutic targets for Alzheimer’s disease and TBI-induced neurodegenerative disease.

Lab Members

Lab Photos

Lab Members:
Jian Zhang
Laboratory Manager and Senior Research Associate
Dexiao Zhu, M.D.Dexiao Zhu, M.D.
Postdoctoral Fellow
Fei Gao, Ph.D.Fei Gao, Ph.D.
Postdoctoral Fellow
Mei Hu, Ph.D.Mei Hu, Ph.D.
Senior Postdoctoral Fellow
Anastassia Nelson
Research Assistant-Senior
Caelia Marshall
SPUR student


  1. Gao F, Hu M, Zhang J, Hashem J and Chen C. (2022) TDP-43 drives synaptic and cognitive deterioration following traumatic brain injury. Acta Neuropathologica. 2022 Jun 17. doi: 10.1007/s00401-022-02449-w. Online ahead of print. PMID: 35713704
  2. Hu M, Zhu D, Zhang J, Gao F, Hashem J, Kingsley P, Marnett LJ, Mackie K and Chen C. (2022) Enhancing endocannabinoid signaling in astrocytes promotes recovery from traumatic brain injury.  Brain 145 (1): 179-193. PMID: 35136958 (Commentary in the issue: and covered by News Media)
  3. Hashem J, Hu M, Zhang J, Gao F, and Chen C. (2021) Inhibition of 2-arachidonoylglycerol metabolism alleviates neuropathology and improves cognitive function in a tau mouse model of Alzheimer’s disease.  Molecular Neurobiology 58:4122-4133. PMID: 33939165
  4. Song Y, Hu M, Zhang J, Teng Z and Chen C. (2019) A novel mechanism of synaptic and cognitive impairments mediated via microRNA-30b in Alzheimer’s disease. EBioMedicine 39:409-421 PMID: 30522932 (Highlighted in this issue)
  5. Qian Q, Zhang J, Bao W, Zheng T, Zhou D, Zhang X, Pan H, Zhang H, He X, Sun B, Luo B, Chen C and Peng G. (2019) Downregulated expression of microRNA-338-5p contributes to neuropathology in Alzheimer’s disease. FASEB Journal 33:4406-4417. PMID: 30576233
  6. Zhang J & Chen C. (2018) Alleviation of neuropathology by inhibition of monoacylglycerol lipase in APP transgenic mice lacking CB2 receptors. Molecular Neurobiology 55:4802-4810. PMID: 28733897
  7. Song Y, Zhang J & Chen C. (2015) Fine-tuning of synaptic upscaling at excitatory synapses by endocannabinoid signaling is mediated via the CB1 receptor. Scientific Reports 5: 16257. PMID: 26541090
  8. Zhang J, Teng Z, Song Y, Hu M & Chen C. (2015) Inhibition of monoacylglycerol lipase prevents chronic traumatic encephalopathy-like neuropathology in a mouse model of repetitive mild closed head injury. Journal of Cerebral Blood Flow & Metabolism 35: 443-453. PMID: 25492114
  9. Xu J & Chen C. (2015) Endocannabinoids in synaptic plasticity and neuroprotection. Neuroscientist 21: 152-168. PMID: 24571856
  10. Zhang J, Hu M, Teng Z, Tang Y & Chen C. (2014) Synaptic and cognitive improvements by inhibition of 2-AG metabolism are through upregulation of microRNA-188-3p in a mouse model of Alzheimer’s disease. Journal of Neuroscience 34:14919-14933. (Featured article in this issue) PMID: 25378159  Editor’s Commentary:  Highlighted in Nature Science-Business eXchange:
  11. Chen R, Zhang J, Fan N, Teng Z, Wu Y, Yang H, Tang Y, Sun H, Song Y & Chen C. (2013) Δ9-THC-caused synaptic and memory impairments are mediated through COX-2 signaling. Cell 155:1154-1165. PMID: 24267894   (Featured and highlighted in Cell :, Science:, Science Signaling: (, Nature: (,   Nature Reviews Neuroscience: (, and covered by various news media.
  12. Chen R, Zhang J, Wu Y, Wang D, Feng G, Tang YP, Teng Z & Chen C. (2012) Monoacylglycerol lipase is a therapeutic target for Alzheimer’s disease. Cell Reports 2:1329-1339 (Covered by various news media). PMID: 23122958
  13. He H, Mahnke A, Doyle S, Fan N, Wang C, Hall B, Tang YP, Inglis F, Chen C & Erickson JD (2012) Neurodevelopmental role for VGLUT2 in pyramidal neuron plasticity, dendritic refinement, and in spatial learning. Journal of Neuroscience 32:15886-15901. PMID: 23136427
  14. Xu J, Zhang J & Chen C. (2012) Long-lasting potentiation of hippocampal synaptic transmission by direct cortical input is mediated via endocannabinoids. Journal of Physiology (Lond) 590:2305-2315. PMID: 22411015
  15. Du H, Chen X, Zhang J & Chen C. (2011) Inhibition of COX-2 expression by endocannabinoid 2-arachidonoylglycerol is mediated by PPAR-g. British Journal of Pharmacology 163:1533-1549. PMID: 21501147
  16. Chen X, Zhang J & Chen C. (2011) Endocannabinoid 2-arachidonoylglycerol protects neurons against b-amyloid insults. Neuroscience 178:159-168. PMID: 21256197
  17. Yu T, Li Z, Jia Z, Clapcote SJ, Liu C, Li S, Asrar S, Pao A, Chen R, Fan N, Carattini-Rivera S, Bechard AR, Spring S, Henkelman RM, Stoica G, Matsui S-I, Nowak NJ, Roder JC, Chen C, Bradley A & Yu YE. (2010)  A mouse model of Down Syndrome trisomic for all human chromosome 21 syntenic regions.  Human Molecular Genetics 19:2780–2791. PMID: 20442137
  18. Chen C. (2010) COX-2’s new role in inflammation. Nature Chemical Biology 6: 401-402. PMID: 20479749
  19. Xu J, Chen R, Zhang J & Chen C. (2010) Endocannabinoids differentially modulate synaptic plasticity in rat hippocampal CA1 pyramidal neurons. PLoS ONE 5:e10306. PMID: 20421986
  20. Sang N, Zhang J & Chen C (2010) Anandamide potentiation of miniature spontaneous excitatory synaptic transmission is mediated via IP3 pathway. Neurochemistry International 56:590-596. PMID: 20064571
  21. Fan N, Yang H, Zhang J & Chen C. (2010) Reduced expression of glutamate receptors and phosphorylation of CREB are responsible for Δ9-THC-impaired hippocampal synaptic plasticity. Journal of Neurochemistry 112:691-702. PMID: 19912468
  22. Yang H, Zhang J, Breyer RM & Chen C. (2009) Altered hippocampal long-term synaptic plasticity in mice deficient in the PGE2 EP2 receptor. Journal of Neurochemistry 108:295-304. PMID: 19012750
  23. Grewal S, Defamie N, Zhang X, Gois SD, Shawki A, Mackenzie B, Chen C, Varoqui H & Erickson JD. (2009) SNAT2 amino-acid transporter is regulated by osmolytes of the SLC6 GABA transporter subfamily and may play no role in delivering glutamine for spontaneous glutamatergic transmission. Journal of Biological Chemistry 284:11224-11236. PMID: 19240036
  24. Zhang J & Chen C. (2008) Endocannabinoid 2-arachidonoylglycerol protects neurons by limiting COX-2 elevation. Journal of Biological Chemistry 283: 22601–22611. PMID: 18534982
  25. Yang H & Chen C. (2008) COX-2 in synaptic signaling. Current Pharmaceutical Design 14: 1443-1451. PMID: 18537667
  26. Yang H, Zhang J, Andreasson K & Chen C. (2008) COX-2 Oxidative metabolism of endocannabinoids augments hippocampal synaptic plasticity. Molecular and Cellular Neuroscience 37: 682-695. PMID: 18295507