Hongzhen Hu, Ph.D.

Associate Professor

Neurosciences Program
Immunology Program
Molecular Cell Biology Program

  • 314 747-4317

  • 314 362-8571

  • 8054

  • hhu24@wustl.edu

  • Understand the molecular and cellular mechanisms by which itch sensation is encoded in the skin focusing on interaction between the resident skin cells and the primary sensory neurons.

Research Abstract:

By taking a multidisciplinary approach using electrophysiological and pharmacological approaches in combination to molecular biology, genetics and behavioral methods, we aim to understand the cellular and molecular mechanisms of pain and itch under physiological and pathological conditions focusing on the transient receptor potential (TRP) channels expressed by epidermal keratinocytes, cutaneous immune cells (dendritic cells, macrophages, and lymphocytes), and primary sensory neurons.

The long-term goal of our research is to understand how itch and pain sensations are encoded in the skin focusing on the interaction between the resident skin cells and the primary sensory neurons, which is a key driving force to produce peripheral sensitization. Identification of cutaneous cells and molecules that are critically involved in the pathogenesis of chronic pain and itch is essential to the development of effective painkillers and anti-pruritic drugs.

Selected Publications:

Hibberd TJ, Feng J, Luo J, Yang P, Samineni VK, Gereau RW 4th, Kelley N, Hu H, Spencer NJ. (2018). Optogenetic Induction of Colonic Motility in Mice. Gastroenterology 155(2): 514-528.

Luo J, Qian A, Oetjen LK, Yu W, Yang P, Feng J, Xie Z, Liu S, Yin S, Dryn D, Cheng J, Riehl TE, Zholos AV, Stenson WF, Kim BS, Hu H. (2018). TRPV4 Channel Signaling in Macrophages Promotes Gastrointestinal Motility via Direct Effects on Smooth Muscle Cells. Immunity 49(1): 107-119.

Feng J, Luo J, Yang P, Du J, Kim BS, Hu H. (2018). Piezo2 channel-Merkel cell signaling modulates the conversion of touch to itch. Science 360(6388): 530-533.

Luo, J., Feng, J., Yu, G., Yang, P., Mack, M.R., Du, J., Yu, W., Qian, A., Zhang, Y., Liu, S., Yin, S., Xu, A., Cheng, J., Liu, Q., O`Neil, R.G., Xia, Y., Ma, L., Carlton, S.M., Kim, B.S., Renner, K., Liu, Q., Hu, H. (2018). Transient receptor potential vanilloid 4-expressing macrophages and keratinocytes contribute differentially to allergic and nonallergic chronic itch. Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology 141(2): 608-619.

Luo, J., Bavencoffe, A., Yang, P., Feng, J., Yin, S., Qian, A., Yu, W., Liu, S., Gong, X., Cai, T., Walters, E.T., Dessauer, C.W., Hu, H. (2018). Zinc inhibits TRPV1 to alleviate chemotherapy-induced neuropathic pain. Journal of Neuroscience 38(2): 474-483.

Feng, J., Yang, P., Mack, M.R., Dryn, D., Luo, J., Gong, X., Liu, S., Oetjen, L., Zholos, A.V., Mei, Z., Yin, S., Kim, B.S., and Hu, H. (2017). Sensory TRP channels contribute differentially to skin inflammation and persistent itch. Nature Communications 8(1): 980.

Oetjen, L.K., Mack, M.R., Feng, J., Whelan, T.M., Niu, H., Guo, C.J., Chen, S., Trier, A.M., Xu, A.Z., Tripathi, S.V., Luo, J., Gao, X., Yang, L., Hamilton, S.L., Wang, P.L., Brestoff, J.R., Council, M.L., Brasington, R., Schaffer, A., Brombacher, F., Hsieh, C.S., Gereau, R.W4th, Miller, M.J., Chen, Z.F., Hu, H., Davidson, S., Liu, Q., Kim, B.S. (2017). Sensory Neurons Co-opt Classical Immune Signaling Pathways to Mediate Chronic Itch. Cell 171(1): 217-228.

Feng, J., Luo, J., Mack, M.R., Yang, P., Zhang, F., Wang, G., Gong, X., Cai, T., Mei, Z., Kim, B., Yin, S., Hu, H. (2017). The antimicrobial peptide hBD2 promotes itch through Toll-like receptor 4 signaling in mice. Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology 140(3): 885-888.

Zhou, Y., Wong, C.O., Cho, K.J., van der Hoeven, D., Liang, H., Thakur, D.P., Luo, J., Babic, M., Zinsmaier, K.E., Zhu, M.X., Hu, H., Venkatachalam, K., Hancock, J.F. (2015). Membrane potential modulates plasma membrane phospholipid dynamics and K-Ras signaling. Science 349(6250): 873-876.

Yin, S., Luo, J., Qian, A., Du, J., Yang, Q., Zhou, S., Yu, W., Du, G., Clark, R.B., Walters, E.T., Carlton, S.M., Hu, H. (2013). Retinoids activate the irritant receptor TRPV1 and produce sensory hypersensitivity. Journal of Clinical Investigation 123(9): 3941-3951.

Last Updated: 9/10/2018 9:27:19 AM

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