Lu Cai, M.D, Ph.D.

Lu Cai, M.D, Ph.D.

Research Biography


Lu Cai, M.D., Ph.D.
Professor of Pediatrics, Radiation Oncology, and Pharmacology & Toxicology,
Director of Pediatric Research Institute, Department of Pediatrics

Research Interests

Cardiovascular complications of diabetes and obesity; Antioxidant metallothionein and its preventive effect on oxidative damage; Trace element (Zinc, copper, iron) homeostasis; Low-dose radiation

Grant Support in the Past 5 Years

10/2013 – 9/2018    R01 NIDDK/1R01DK091338-01A1
“Low-dose irradiation as a novel intervention for diabetic nephropathy”
Total support cost: $ 339,250 ($295,000 direct/$112,500 indirect)
Yearly: $109,250/$115,000/$115,000
Effort: 15%
Role: PI
1/2011–12/2013:    Basic Research Award from American Diabetes Association
“Nrf2 activator to prevent diabetic cardiomyopathy: A potential therapeutic approach”
Total support cost: $ 339,250 ($295,000 direct/$112,500 indirect)
Yearly: $109,250/$115,000/$115,000
Effort: 20%
Role: PI

7/2010–6/2014        Wenzhou Medical College, China
Collaborative Initiative for Research of Diabetic Complications
Total support: ¥6,000,000 (equal to $903,000, no indirect cost; this fund is used to purchase diabetes research-related equipment, and provide salary and laboratory cost for the postdoctoral fellows from China to work in Lu Cai’s laboratory)
Effort: 10%
Role: Director & PI

1/2012 – 12/2014     Basic Research Award from American Diabetes Association
“Role of HIF in hypertrophy heart of diabetes”
Total support cost: $ 339,250 ($295,000 direct/$112,500 indirect)
Yearly: $109,250/$115,000/$115,000
Effort: 5%
Role: Co-PI (PI: Dr. Wenke Feng at the Department of Medicine)

1/2013 – 12/2015    Basic Research Award from American Diabetes Association
“Sesquiterpenoids abolish hepatocellular carcinoma stem cells in the comprised liver by diabetes”
Total support cost: $ 339,250 ($295,000 direct/$112,500 indirect)
Yearly: $109,250/$115,000/$115,000
Effort: 5%
Role: Co-PI (PI: Dr. Yan Li at the Department of Surgery)

9/2010 – 8/2013    OR090617 from Department of Defense
“Acceleration of the Angiogenesis and Soft Tissue Regeneration for the Hind Limb Complex Wound by a Novel Approach: Combined Use of SDF-1betaP2G with FGF and Zinc”
Total support: $581,086 (388,975 for direct and 192,111 for indirect)
Yearly: $193,700/$192,137/$194,757
Effort: 25%
R01: PI

7/2010 – 6/2013    Bioland Ltd, Nature, Science & Life, South Korea
Collaborating Initiative for Research of Anti-diabetes and Anti-obesity
Total support: $327,800 (direct cost: $220,000)
Yearly: $163,900/$163,900
Effort: 10%
Role: PI

7/2005–12/2010:    American Diabetes Association
“Mechanisms for metallothionein prevention of diabetes-induced nitrosative damage to the heart”
Total direct cost: $887,500 ($775,000 direct/$112,500 indirect)
Effort: 40%
Role: PI

7/2007–12/2010    American Diabetes Association
“Metallothionein and hypoxia inducible factor-1 in diabetic cardiomyopathy” Total support: $414,000 ($360,000 direct/$54,000 direct)
Effort: 13% (13% salary)
Role: Collaborator (PI: Wenke Feng)

Education and Training

M.D. in General Medicine, Norman Bethune University of Medical Sciences, Changchun, China
Ph.D. in Radiation Medicine, Norman Bethune University of Medical Sciences, Changchun, China    
Postdoctoral fellow, Department of Pathology, the University of Western Ontario, London, Canada; Department of Pharmacology and Toxicology, the McGill University, Montreal, Canada

Recent Publications

Jagadapillai R, Rane MJ, Lin X, Roberts AM, Hoyle GW, Cai L, Gozal E. Diabetic Microvascular Disease and Pulmonary Fibrosis: The Contribution of Platelets and Systemic Inflammation. Int J Mol Sci. 2016 Nov 8;17(11).

Wang Z, Huang Y, Cheng Y, Tan Y, Wu F, Wu J, Shi H, Zhang H, Yu X, Gao H, Lin L, Cai J, Zhang J, Li X, Cai L, Xiao J.  Endoplasmic reticulum stress-induced neuronal inflammatory response and apoptosis likely plays a key role in the development of diabetic encephalopathy.  Oncotarget. 2016 Nov 29;7(48):78455-78472.

Xu X, Sun J, Chang X, Wang J, Luo M, Wintergerst KA, Miao L, Cai L. Genetic variants of nuclear factor erythroid-derived 2-like 2 associated with the complications in Han descents with type 2 diabetes mellitus of Northeast China.  J Cell Mol Med. 2016 Nov;20(11):2078-2088.

Rajesh M, Cai L, Mukhopadhyay P, Vedantham S. Redox Signaling and Myocardial Cell Death: Molecular Mechanisms and Drug Targets.  Oxid Med Cell Longev. 2016; 2016:3190753

Yang G, Yu D, Li W, Zhao Y, Wen X, Liang X, Zhang X, Zhou L, Hu J, Niu C, Tian H, Han F, Chen X, Dong L, Cai L, Cui J. Distinct biological effects of low-dose radiation on normal and cancerous human lung cells are mediated by ATM signaling.  Oncotarget. 2016 Nov 1;7(44):71856-71872

Zhao X, Li F, Sun W, Gao L, Kim KS, Kim KT, Cai L, Zhang Z, Zheng Y. Extracts of Magnolia Species-Induced Prevention of Diabetic Complications: A Brief Review.  Int J Mol Sci. 2016 Sep 24;17(10).

Bai T, Hu X, Zheng Y, Wang S, Kong J, Cai L. Resveratrol protects against lipopolysaccharide-induced cardiac dysfunction by enhancing SERCA2a activity through promoting the phospholamban oligomerization. Am J Physiol Heart Circ Physiol. 2016 Oct 1;311(4):H1051-H1062.

Cong W, Niu C, Lv L, Ni M, Ruan D, Chi L, Wang Y, Yu Q, Zhan K, Xuan Y, Wang Y, Tan Y, Wei T, Cai L, Jin L. Metallothionein Prevents Age-Associated Cardiomyopathy via Inhibiting NF-κB Pathway Activation and Associated Nitrative Damage to 2-OGD. Antioxid Redox Signal. 2016 Dec 10;25(17):936-952.

Xu Z, Wang S, Ji H, Zhang Z, Chen J, Tan Y, Wintergerst K, Zheng Y, Sun J, Cai L. Broccoli sprout extract prevents diabetic cardiomyopathy via Nrf2 activation in db/db T2DM mice. Sci Rep. 2016 Jul 26;6:30252

Bai T, Wang F, Zheng Y, Liang Q, Wang Y, Kong J, Cai L. Myocardial redox status, mitophagy and cardioprotection: a potential way to amend diabetic heart?  Clin Sci (Lond). 2016 Sep 1;130(17):1511-21.

Chen J, Wang S, Luo M, Zhang Z, Dai X, Kong M, Cai L, Wang Y, Shi B, Tan Y. From the Cover: Zinc Deficiency Worsens and Supplementation Prevents High-Fat Diet Induced Vascular Inflammation, Oxidative Stress, and Pathological Remodeling. Toxicol Sci. 2016 Sep;153(1):124-36

Wang S, Luo M, Zhang Z, Gu J, Chen J, Payne KM, Tan Y, Wang Y, Yin X, Zhang X, Liu GC, Wintergerst K, Liu Q, Zheng Y, Cai L. Zinc deficiency exacerbates while zinc supplement attenuates cardiac hypertrophy in high-fat diet-induced obese mice through modulating p38 MAPK-dependent signaling. Toxicol Lett. 2016 Sep 6;258:134-46

Liu X, Wang T, Liu X, Cai L, Qi J, Zhang P, Li Y. Biochanin A protects lipopolysaccharide/D-galactosamine-induced acute liver injury in mice by activating the Nrf2 pathway and inhibiting NLRP3 inflammasome activation.  Int Immunopharmacol. 2016 Sep;38:324-31.

Yang G, Li W, Jiang H, Liang X, Zhao Y, Yu D, Zhou L, Wang G, Tian H, Han F, Cai L, Cui J. Low-dose radiation may be a novel approach to enhance the effectiveness of cancer therapeutics.  Int J Cancer. 2016 Nov 15;139(10):2157-68.

Liu X, Zhang P, Martin RC, Cui G, Wang G, Tan Y, Cai L, Lv G, Li Y. Lack of fibroblast growth factor 21 accelerates metabolic liver injury characterized by steatohepatities in mice.  Am J Cancer Res. 2016 May 1;6(5):1011-25.

Wu H, Kong L, Tan Y, Epstein PN, Zeng J, Gu J, Liang G, Kong M, Chen X, Miao L, Cai L. C66 ameliorates diabetic nephropathy in mice by both upregulating NRF2 function via increase in miR-200a and inhibiting miR-21. Diabetologia. 2016 Jul;59(7):1558-68.

Luo M, Luo P, Zhang Z, Payne K, Watson S, Wu H, Tan Y, Ding Y, Sun W, Yin X, Zhang X, Liu G, Wintergerst K, Miao L, Cai L. Zinc delays the progression of obesity-related glomerulopathy in mice via down-regulating P38 MAPK-mediated inflammation. Obesity (Silver Spring). 2016 Jun;24(6):1244-56.

Xu J, Zheng S, Kralik PM, Krishnan L, Huang H, Hoying JB, Cai L, Carlson EC, Tan Y, Epstein PN. Diabetes Induced Changes in Podocyte Morphology and Gene Expression Evaluated Using GFP Transgenic Podocytes. Int J Biol Sci. 2016 Jan 1;12(2):210-8

Cheng Y, Zhang J, Guo W, Li F, Sun W, Chen J, Zhang C, Lu X, Tan Y, Feng W, Fu Y, Liu GC, Xu Z, Cai L. Up-regulation of Nrf2 is involved in FGF21-mediated fenofibrate protection against type 1 diabetic nephropathy.  Free Radic Biol Med. 2016 Apr;93:94-109.

Zheng S, Coventry S, Cai L, Powell DW, Jala VR, Haribabu B, Epstein PN. Renal Protection by Genetic Deletion of the Atypical Chemokine Receptor ACKR2 in Diabetic OVE Mice. J Diabetes Res. 2016;2016: 5362506.

Zhang J, Cheng Y, Gu J, Wang S, Zhou S, Wang Y, Tan Y, Feng W, Fu Y, Mellen N, Cheng R, Ma J, Zhang C, Li Z, Cai L. Fenofibrate increases cardiac autophagy via FGF21/SIRT1 and prevents fibrosis and inflammation in the hearts of Type 1 diabetic mice.  Clin Sci (Lond). 2016 Apr;130(8):625-41.

Zhao Y, Kong C, Chen X, Wang Z, Wan Z, Jia L, Liu Q, Wang Y, Li W, Cui J, Han F, Cai L. Repetitive exposure to low-dose X-irradiation attenuates testicular apoptosis in type 2 diabetic rats, likely via Akt-mediated Nrf2 activation.  Mol Cell Endocrinol. 2016 Feb 15;422:203-10

Bai T, Wang F, Mellen N, Zheng Y, Cai L. Diabetic cardiomyopathy: role of the E3 ubiquitin ligase.  Am J Physiol Endocrinol Metab. 2016 Apr 1;310(7):E473-83.

Liang X, Gu J, Yu D, Wang G, Zhou L, Zhang X, Zhao Y, Chen X, Zheng S, Liu Q, Cai L, Cui J, Li W. Low-Dose Radiation Induces Cell Proliferation in Human Embryonic Lung Fibroblasts but not in Lung Cancer Cells: Importance of ERK1/2 and AKT Signaling Pathways.  Dose Response. 2016 Jan 6;14(1):1559325815622174

 Zhou S, Yin X, Jin J, Tan Y, Conklin DJ, Xin Y, Zhang Z, Sun W, Cui T, Cai J, Zheng Y, Cai L. Intermittent hypoxia-induced cardiomyopathy and its prevention by Nrf2 and metallothionein.  Free Radic Biol Med. 2017 Aug 2;112:224-239.

Pena AM, Chen S, Feng B, Cai L, Li X, Liang G, Chakrabarti S. Prevention of Diabetic Nephropathy by Modified Acidic Fibroblast Growth Factor.  Nephron. 2017 Jul 29. doi: 10.1159/000478745

Xu Z, Tong Q, Zhang Z, Wang S, Zheng Y, Liu Q, Qian LB, Chen SY, Sun J, Cai L. Inhibition of HDAC3 prevents diabetic cardiomyopathy in OVE26 mice via epigenetic regulation of DUSP5-ERK1/2 pathway.  Clin Sci (Lond). 2017 Jul 5;131(15):1841-1857.

Zhao Y, Cai L. Does Krüppel Like Factor 15 Play an Important Role in the Left Ventricular Hypertrophy of Patients with Type 2 Diabetes?  EBioMedicine. 2017 Jun;20:17-18.

Yan X, Dai X, He L, Ling X, Shao M, Zhang C, Wang Y, Xiao J, Cai L, Li X, Tan Y. A Novel CXCR4 antagonist enhances angiogenesis via modifying the ischaemic tissue environment. J Cell Mol Med. 2017 Apr 4.

Zhang J, Feng Z, Wang C, Zhou H, Liu W, Kanchana K, Dai X, Zou P, Gu J, Cai L, Liang G. Curcumin derivative WZ35 efficiently suppresses colon cancer progression through inducing ROS production and ER stress-dependent apoptosis.  Am J Cancer Res. 2017 Feb 1;7(2):275-288.

Hu X, Bai T, Xu Z, Liu Q, Zheng Y, Cai L. Pathophysiological Fundamentals of Diabetic Cardiomyopathy.  Compr Physiol. 2017 Mar 16;7(2):693-711

Wang S, Wang B, Wang Y, Tong Q, Liu Q, Sun J, Zheng Y, Cai L. Zinc Prevents the Development of Diabetic Cardiomyopathy in db/db Mice.  Int J Mol Sci. 2017 Mar 7;18(3).

Wang Y, Wu H, Xin Y, Bai Y, Kong L, Tan Y, Liu F, Cai L. Sulforaphane Prevents Angiotensin II-Induced Testicular Cell Death via Activation of NRF2.  Oxid Med Cell Longev. 2017;2017:5374897

Wang S, Gu J, Xu Z, Zhang Z, Bai T, Xu J, Cai J, Barnes G, Liu QJ, Freedman JH, Wang Y, Liu Q, Zheng Y, Cai L. Zinc rescues obesity-induced cardiac hypertrophy via stimulating metallothionein to suppress oxidative stress-activated BCL10/CARD9/p38 MAPK pathway. J Cell Mol Med. 2017 Jun;21(6):1182-1192.

Cui J, Yang G, Pan Z, Zhao Y, Liang X, Li W, Cai L. Hormetic Response to Low-Dose Radiation: Focus on the Immune System and Its Clinical Implications.  Int J Mol Sci. 2017 Jan 27;18(2).

Gu J, Cheng Y, Wu H, Kong L, Wang S, Xu Z, Zhang Z, Tan Y, Keller BB, Zhou H, Wang Y, Xu Z, Cai L. Metallothionein Is Downstream of Nrf2 and Partially Mediates Sulforaphane Prevention of Diabetic Cardiomyopathy.  Diabetes. 2017 Feb;66(2):529-542.

Wang Q, Du L, Wang Y, Xu C, Sun Z, Fu Y, Yang B, Wang Y, Mu C, Fan S, Cai L, Katsube T, Liu Q. The development and biological characteristics of a novel potentially radioresistant inbred mouse strain.  Mol Med Rep. 2017 Feb;15(2):759-767.