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

Ongoing Grants

  1. 01/1/2018 – 12/31/2020

    1-18-IBS-082    Basic Research Award from American Diabetes Association

    “Zinc-induced MT prevents diabetic cardiomyopathy by regulating CARD9/P38a MAPK”

    Total support cost: #345,000

    Yearly: $115,000

    Effort: 10%

    Role: PI

  2. 04/01/2016 – 03/31/2020

    R01 NHLBI/1R01HL131110-01A1       

      “E2F1 in bone marrow progenitor cells” 

      Role: PI (Louisville-subcontract, FE: 5% [$58,885]; PI: G. Qin, University of Alabama)


  3. 05/01/2017 – 04/30/2022


      A novel mechanism of stromal cell derived factor 1 protection against diabetic cardiomyopathy

      Total support cost: $1,250,000

      Yearly $250,000

      Effort: 5%

      Role: Co-I (PI: Yi Tan)


   4. 05/01/2018 – 04/30/2022

    Robley Rex Veterans Affairs Medical Center

    The Vagus Nerve in Lung Disease

    Total support cost: $1,017,581

     Effort: 5%

     Role: Co-I (PI: Jun (Jerry) Yu)


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

Cai L, Welsh JS, Pennington CW.  Letter by Cai et al Regarding Article, "Exposure to Low-Dose Ionizing Radiation From Cardiac Procedures and Malignancy Risk in Adults With Congenital Heart Disease". Circulation. 2018 Sep 25;138(13):1377-1378.

Liang X, Zheng S, Cui J, Yu D, Yang G, Zhou L, Wang B, Cai L, Li W.  Alterations of MicroRNA Expression in the Liver, Heart, and Testis of Mice Upon Exposure to Repeated Low-Dose Radiation.  Dose Response. 2018 Sep 24;16(3):1559325818799561

Cheng J, Li F, Wang G, Guo W, Huang S, Wang B, Li C, Jiang Q, Cai L, Cui J.  Optimal LDR to Protect the Kidney From Diabetes: Whole-Body Exposure to 25 mGy X-rays Weekly for 8 Weeks Efficiently Attenuates Renal Damage in Diabetic Mice.  Dose Response. 2018 Sep 6;16(3):1559325818789843.

Zhang HF, Cheng J, Lv Y, Li FS, He GY, Wang B, Cai L, Guo WY. Repeated Whole-Body Exposure to Low-Dose Radiation Combined With Topical Application of Basic Fibroblast Growth Factor and Zinc Accelerates Wound Healing in Diabetic Rats. Dose Response. 2018 Aug 21;16(3):1559325818789845.

Zhou S, Wang J, Yin X, Xin Y, Zhang Z, Cui T, Cai J, Zheng Y, Liu Q, Cai L. Nrf2 expression and function, but not MT expression, is indispensable for sulforaphane-mediated protection against intermittent hypoxia-induced cardiomyopathy in mice.  Redox Biol. 2018 Oct;19:11-21

Guo K, He Y, Liu L, Liang Z, Li X, Cai L, Lan ZJ, Zhou J, Wang H, Lei Z.  Ablation of Ggnbp2 impairs meiotic DNA double-strand break repair during spermatogenesis in mice.  J Cell Mol Med. 2018 Oct;22(10):4863-4874.

Maeng Y, Kim KT, Zhou X, Jin L, Kim KS, Kim YH, Lee S, Park JH, Chen X, Kong M, Cai L, Li X.  A novel microbial technique for producing high-quality sophorolipids from horse oil suitable for cosmetic applications.  Microb Biotechnol. 2018 Sep;11(5):917-929.

Wu H, Cai L, de Haan JB, Giacconi R.  Targeting Oxidative Stress in Diabetic Complications: New Insights.  J Diabetes Res. 2018 Jun 19;2018:1909675.

Zhang J, Weng W, Wang K, Lu X, Cai L, Sun J.  The role of FGF21 in type 1 diabetes and its complications.  Int J Biol Sci. 2018 Jun 2;14(9):1000-1011.

Yu H, Ye F, Yuan F, Cai L, Ji H, Keller BB.  Neonatal Murine Engineered Cardiac Tissue Toxicology Model: Impact of Metallothionein Overexpression on Cadmium-Induced Injury.Toxicol Sci. 2018 Oct 1;165(2):499-511.

Cui G, Martin RC, Jin H, Liu X, Pandit H, Zhao H, Cai L, Zhang P, Li W, Li Y.  Up-regulation of FGF15/19 signaling promotes hepatocellular carcinoma in the background of fatty liver.  J Exp Clin Cancer Res. 2018 Jul 4;37(1):136.

 Zhou SS, Jin JP, Wang JQ, Zhang ZG, Freedman JH, Zheng Y, Cai LmiRNAS in cardiovascular diseases: potential biomarkers, therapeutic targets and challenges.  Acta Pharmacol Sin. 2018 Jul;39(7):1073-1084.

Young JL, Cai L, States JC.  Impact of prenatal arsenic exposure on chronic adult diseases. Syst Biol Reprod Med. 2018 Dec;64(6):469-483.

Lian X, Wang G, Zhou H, Zheng Z, Fu Y, Cai LAnticancer Properties of Fenofibrate: A Repurposing Use.  J Cancer. 2018 Apr 6;9(9):1527-1537.

Ohja K, Gozal E, Fahnestock M, Cai L, Cai J, Freedman JH, Switala A, El-Baz A, Barnes GN. Neuroimmunologic and Neurotrophic Interactions in Autism Spectrum Disorders: Relationship to Neuroinflammation.  Neuromolecular Med. 2018 Jun;20(2):161-173.

Zhang J, Xu Z, Gu J, Jiang S, Liu Q, Zheng Y, Freedman JH, Sun J, Cai LHDAC3 inhibition in diabetic mice may activate Nrf2 preventing diabetes-induced liver damage and FGF21 synthesis and secretion leading to aortic protection.  Am J Physiol Endocrinol Metab. 2018 Aug 1;315(2):E150-E162.

Jiang X, Hong Y, Zhao D, Meng X, Zhao L, Du Y, Wang Z, Zheng Y, Cai L, Jiang H.  Low dose radiation prevents doxorubicin-induced cardiotoxicity.  Oncotarget. 2017 Dec 7;9(1):332-345.

 Sun W, Yang J, Wang W, Hou J, Cheng Y, Fu Y, Xu Z, Cai LThe beneficial effects of Zn on Akt-mediated insulin and cell survival signaling pathways in diabetes.  J Trace Elem Med Biol. 2018 Mar;46:117-127.

Hu X, Rajesh M, Zhang J, Zhou S, Wang S, Sun J, Tan Y, Zheng Y, Cai LProtection by dimethyl fumarate against diabetic cardiomyopathy in type 1 diabetic mice likely via activation of nuclear factor erythroid-2 related factor 2.  Toxicol Lett. 2018 May 1;287:131-141

Wang K, Chen X, Liu J, Zou LP, Feng W, Cai L, Wu X, Chen SY.  Embryonic exposure to ethanol increases the susceptibility of larval zebrafish to chemically induced seizures.  Sci Rep. 2018 Jan 30;8(1):1845.

Gu J, Wang S, Guo H, Tan Y, Liang Y, Feng A, Liu Q, Damodaran C, Zhang Z, Keller BB, Zhang C, Cai LInhibition of p53 prevents diabetic cardiomyopathy by preventing early-stage apoptosis and cell senescence, reduced glycolysis, and impaired angiogenesis.  Cell Death Dis. 2018 Jan 23;9(2):82.

Xin Y, Bai Y, Jiang X, Zhou S, Wang Y, Wintergerst KA, Cui T, Ji H, Tan Y, Cai LSulforaphane prevents angiotensin II-induced cardiomyopathy by activation of Nrf2 via stimulating the Akt/GSK-3ß/Fyn pathway.  Redox Biol. 2018 May;15:405-417

Lian X, Gu J, Gao B, Li Y, Damodaran C, Wei W, Fu Y, Cai LFenofibrate inhibits mTOR-p70S6K signaling and simultaneously induces cell death in human prostate cancer cells.  Biochem Biophys Res Commun. 2018 Jan 29;496(1):70-75.

Zhao Y, Song W, Wang Z, Wang Z, Jin X, Xu J, Bai L, Li Y, Cui J, Cai LResveratrol attenuates testicular apoptosis in type 1 diabetic mice: Role of Akt-mediated Nrf2 activation and p62-dependent Keap1 degradation.  Redox Biol. 2018 Apr;14:609-617

Gu J, Yan X, Dai X, Wang Y, Lin Q, Xiao J, Zhou S, Zhang J, Wang K, Zeng J, Xin Y, Barati MT, Zhang C, Bai Y, Li Y, Epstein PN, Wintergerst KA, Li X, Tan Y, Cai LMetallothionein Preserves Akt2 Activity and Cardiac Function via Inhibiting TRB3 in Diabetic Hearts.  Diabetes. 2018 Mar;67(3):507-517.

Park Y, Zhang J, Cai LReappraisal of metallothionein: Clinical implications for patients with diabetes mellitus.  J Diabetes. 2018 Mar;10(3):213-231

Yuan F, Chen X, Liu J, Feng W, Cai L, Wu X, Chen SY.  Sulforaphane restores acetyl-histone H3 binding to Bcl-2 promoter and prevents apoptosis in ethanol-exposed neural crest cells and mouse embryos.  Exp Neurol. 2018 Feb;300:60-66.

Dai X, Zeng J, Yan X, Lin Q, Wang K, Chen J, Shen F, Gu X, Wang Y, Chen J, Pan K, Cai L, Wintergerst KA, Tan Y.  Sitagliptin-mediated preservation of endothelial progenitor cell function via augmenting autophagy enhances ischaemic angiogenesis in diabetes. J Cell Mol Med. 2018 Jan;22(1):89-100