Jun Cai, MD, PhD

Associate Professor of Pediatrics

Pediatric Research Institute

Academic Phone Number: 502-852-3771 Email Address: jun.cai@louisville.edu


Dr. Jun Cai received his MD in 1993 and PhD in 1997. His postdoc training was supported by the National Multiple Sclerosis Society. Dr. Jun Cai has a broad background in medicine, biochemistry and molecular biology, and developmental neuroscience, with specific expertise in genetic manipulation, electroporation on embryo or tissue explant, stereotactic focal injection, neurobehavioral tests, and rodent models of drug-induced demyelination-remyelination, spinal cord/brain injury, hypoxia, and glioma etc.  His research has been funded by multiple federal/national grants and focuses on the gene-environment interactions in development, diseases, and regeneration of the CNS. He published over eighty research papers on the peer-reviewed journals, including Neuron, Journal of Neuroscience, Glia, Journal of Neuroinflammation, Development, Stem Cells, and Journal of Pathology. Dr. Jun Cai is a member of Society for Experimental Biology and Medicine, Society for Neuroscience, National Neurotrauma Society, and holds a full membership of Sigma Xi The Scientific Research Honor Society. 

Research Interests

  • Oligodendrocyte development, myelination, and white matter development
  • Myelin plasticity, demyelination, and remyelination
  • Cell-to-cell communication and neurocircuitry in neurotrauma, neurodegenerative diseases (MS), mental disorders (include NDDs), and glioma.
  • Novel approaches for drug or gene delivery across the BBB


Current Projects and Grants

  • Molecular targets for therapeutic intervention in rotational acceleration-deceleration neonatal brain injury (NIH NS098170, KSCHIRT, and NeuroCure Foundation)
  • Glial dyshomeostasis and therapeutic interventions in the demyelination diseases (e.g. MS)
  • Effects of early-life cadmium exposure and diet-induced obesity on brain impairments and Neurodevelopmental/Mental Disorders (NIH and KSEF).
  • Early-life cadmium exposure and epigenomic reprogramming in pediatric high-grade glioma and CAR T-cell immunotherapy (KPCRTF)


Selected Publications and Manuscripts in Progress

*equal contribution      #co-corresponding author

Related to oligodendrocyte development, myelination, and white matter development:

  1. Qi, Y.*, Cai, J.*, Wu, Y., Wu, R., Lee, J., Fu, H., Rao, M., Sussel, L., Rubenstein, J. and Qiu, M. (2001). Control of oligodendrocyte differentiation by the Nkx-2.2 homeodomain transcription factor.Development 128: 2723-2733. PMID11526078
  2. Cai, J., Qi, Y., Hu, X., Liu, Z., Zhang J., Li Q., Sander, M. and Qiu, M. (2005). Generation of oligodendrocytes from the dorsal spinal cord independent of Nkx6-regulation and Shh signaling. Neuron 45: 41-53. (preview in the same issue).
  3. Zhang, X.*,Cai, J.*,Klueber, K.M., Guo, Z.F., Qiu, M., and Roisen, F.J. (2005). Induction of oligodendrocytes from adult human olfactory epithelial-derived progenitors by lineage transcription factors. Stem Cells 23(3): 442-453. PMID15749939
  4. Cai, J.#, Zhu, Q., Zheng, K., Li, H., Qi, Y., Cao, Q., and Qiu, M#. (2010). Co-localization of Nkx6.2 and Nkx2.2 homeodomain proteins in differentiated myelinating oligodendrocytes. Glia 58(4): 458-468. PMC2807475.

Related to myelin plasticity, demyelination, and remyelination:

  1. Cai, J.#, Tuong C., Zhang, Y.P., Shields, C.B., Guo, G., Fu, H., and Gozal, D.# (2012). Mouse intermittent hypoxia mimicking apnea of prematurity: effects on myelinogenesis and axonal maturation. Journal of Pathology 226: 495-508.  NIHMS566382
  2. Chu, T., Zhang, Y-P., Tian, Z., Ye, C., Zhu, M., Shields, B.E., Kong, M., Barnes, G.N., Shields, C.B.#, and Cai, J.# (2019) Dynamic response of microglia/macrophage polarization following demyelination in mice. Journal of Neuroinflammation 16: 188.
  3. Tian, Z., Chu, T., Shields, B.E., Zhu, Q., Zhang Y-P., Barnes, G.N., Wang, Y., Shileds, C.B., and Cai, J. (2020) Platelet-activating factor deteriorates lysophosphatidylcholine-induced demyelination via its receptor-dependent and -independent mechanisms. Molecular Neurobiology 57: 4069-4081.
  4. Gibson, J.M., Chu, T., Zeng, W., Wethall, A.C., Mellen, N., Devlin Phinney, L.A.#, Cai, J.# (2022) Perinatal Methadone Exposure Attenuates Myelination and Induces Oligodendrocyte Apoptosis in Neonatal Rat Brain. Experimental Biology and Medicine 247: 12. doi: 10.1177/15353702221090457 (feature article).

Related to cell-to-cell communication and neurocircuitry in diseases:

  1. Gao, Z., Zhu, Q.#, Zhang, Y.P., Zhao, Y., Cai, L., Shields, C.B., Cai, J.# (2013). Reciprocal modulation between microglia and astrocyte in reactive gliosis following the CNS injury. Molecular Neurobiology 48(3): 690-701.
  2. Wang, Y.*, Gao, Z.*, Zhang, Y.*, Feng, S-Q., Liu, Y., Shields, L.B.E., Zhao, Y-Z., Zhu, Q.#, Gozal, D., Shields, C.B., Cai, J.# (2016). Attenuated reactive gliosis and enhanced functional recovery following the spinal cord injury in null mutant mice of platelet-activating factor receptor. Molecular Neurobiology 53(5): 3448-3461.
  3. Zhao, Y-Z., Jiang, X., Lin, Q., Xu, H-L., Huang, Y-D., Lu, C-T.#, Cai, J.#(2017). Thermosensitive heparin-poloxamer hydrogels enhance the effects of GDNF on neuronal circuit remodeling and neuroprotection after spinal cord injury.  Journal of Biomedical Materials Research (Part A) 105(10): 2816-2829.
  4. Wang, G., Li, F., Zhang, Y. P., Shields, L.B.E., Gao, Z., Chu, T., Lv, H., Moriarty, T., Xu, X., Yang, X.#, Shields, C.B.#, Cai, J.# (2018) Pathophysiological and behavioral deficits in developing mice following rotational acceleration-deceleration traumatic brain injury.Disease Models and Mechanisms 11(1), pii: dmm030387. doi: 10.1242/dmm.030387.

Related to novel approaches for drug or gene delivery across the BBB:
  1. Zhao, Y-Z., Lu, C-T.#, Li, X-K, Cai, J.# (2013). Ultrasound-mediated strategies in opening brain barriers for drug brain delivery. Expert Opinion on Drug Delivery 10(7): 987-1001.
  2. Zhao, Y-Z., Li, X., Lu, C-T., Lin, M., Chen, L-J., Xiang, Q., Zhang, M., Jin, R-R., Jiang, X., Shen, X-T., Li, X-K. #, and Cai, J. #. (2014) Gelatin nanostructured lipid carriers-mediated intranasal delivery of basic fibroblast growth factor enhances recovery of dopaminergic neurons in 6-hydroxydopamine induced hemiparkinsonian rats. Nanomedicine - Nanotechnology, Biology and Medicine10: 755-764.
  3. Zhao, Y-Z., Chen, L-J., Lin, Q., Cai, J., Yu, W-Z., Zhao, Y-P., Xu, C-Y., Mao, K-L., Tian, F-R., Li, W-F., Wong, H-L., Lu, C-T.  Using FUS induced BBB/BTB-opening technique combined with Doxorubicin liposomes to improve glioma-targeted inhibition. Oncotarget 2015: 5144.
  4. Tian, Z., Ning, C., Fu, C., Xu, F., Zou, C., Zhu, Q., Cai, J.#, and Wang, Y. # (2020) CALCOCO2 silencing represents a potential molecular therapeutic target for glioma. Archives of Medical Science doi: https://doi.org/10.5114/aoms.2020.95880.


Google Scholar Profile: total citations 4227; h-index 35; i10-index 56