Du, Heng

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Dr. Heng Du is an Assistant Professor in the Biological Sciences department. His research focuses on the mitochondrial role in neurodegenerative diseases. There are two themes to this focus: 1)explores the synaptic mitochondria-associated mechanisms of neurodegeneration in neurological diseases. 2)is translational study on mitochondrial medicine to protect neurodegeneration under pathological states, by using a combination of molecular biology, cell biology, electrophysiology and pathology on research models including gene-modified animal, cell models and embryonic and induced pluripotent stem cells.


Recent Submissions

Now showing 1 - 7 of 7
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    Cyclophilin D Deficiency Protects Against the Development of Mitochondrial ROS and Cellular Inflammation in Aorta
    (Academic Press Inc Elsevier Science, 2018-12-13) Liu, Xiaojing; Du, Heng; Chen, Dan; Yuan, Hai; Chen, Wenbin; Jia, Wenyu; Wang, Xiaolei; Li, Xia; Gao, Ling; Du, Heng
    Introduction: Inflammation and oxidative stress are closely correlated in the pathology of cardiovascular disease. Mitochondrial cyclophilin D (CypD), the important modulator for mPTP opening, is increasingly recognized as a key regulator of cellular ROS generation. Besides, its association with cell inflammation is also being discovered. However, the effects of CypD in modulating vascular inflammatory response is unknown. We sought to investigate whether CypD deficiency attenutes vascular inflammation under physical conditions. Methods and results: We adopted CypD KO mouse and their littermate controls to observe the effects of CypD deficiency on aortic mitochondrial functions and vascular inflammation. As we found in our study, we confirmed that under physical conditions, CypD deficiency enhanced mouse whole body metabolic status, increased aortic mitochondrial complex III activity and decreased mitochondrial ROS generation. Functionally, CypD deficiency also attenuated inflammatory molecules expression, including VCAM-1, IL-6 and TNF-alpha in mouse aorta. Conclusions: Our results review that mitochondrial CypD is involved in the regulation of inflammation in aorta and provide insights that blocking mitochondrial CypD enhances vascular resistance to inflammatory injuries.
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    Cyclophilin D Deficiency Attenuates Mitochondrial F1Fo ATP Synthase Dysfunction Via OSCP In Alzheimer's Disease
    (Academic Press Inc Elsevier Science, 2018-09-26) Gauba, Esha; Chen, Hao; Guo, Lan; Du, Heng; Gauba, Esha; Chen, Hao; Guo, Lan; Du, Heng
    Mitochondrial dysfunction is pivotal in inducing synaptic injury and neuronal stress in Alzheimer's disease (AD). Mitochondrial F1Fo ATP synthase deregulation is a hallmark mitochondrial defect leading to oxidative phosphorylation (OXPHOS) failure in this neurological disorder. Oligomycin sensitivity conferring protein (OSCP) is a crucial F1Fo ATP synthase subunit. Decreased OSCP levels and OSCP interaction with amyloid beta (A beta) constitute key aspects of F1Fo ATP synthase pathology in AD-related conditions. However, the detailed mechanisms promoting such AD-related OSCP changes have not been fully resolved. Here, we have found increased physical interaction of OSCP with Cyclophilin D (CypD) in AD cases as well as in an AD animal model (5xFAD mice). Genetic depletion of CypD mitigates OSCP loss via ubiquitin-dependent OSCP degradation in 5xFAD mice. Moreover, the ablation of CypD also attenuates OSCP/A beta interaction in AD mice. The relieved OSCP changes by CypD depletion in 5xFAD mice are along with preserved F1Fo ATP synthase function, restored mitochondrial bioenergetics as well as improved mouse cognition. The simplest interpretation of our results is that CypD is a critical mediator that promotes OSCP deficits in AD-related conditions. Therefore, to block the deleterious impact of CypD on OSCP has the potential to be a promising therapeutic strategy to correct mitochondrial dysfunction for AD therapy.
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    Amyloid Beta-Mediated KIF5A Deficiency Disrupts Anterograde Axonal Mitochondrial Movement
    (Academic Press Inc.) Wang, Qi; Tian, Jing; Chen, Hao; Du, Heng; Guo, Lan; Wang, Qi; Tian, Jing; Chen, Hao; Du, Heng; Guo, Lan
    Mitochondria are crucial organelles for neurophysiology and brain mitochondrial defects constitute a characteristic of Alzheimer's disease (AD). Impaired axonal mitochondrial traffic, especially the anterograde axonal mitochondrial transport is a pronouncing mitochondrial defect that underlies synaptic failure in AD-related conditions. However, the detailed molecular mechanisms of such axonal mitochondrial abnormality have not been fully understood. KIF5A is a key isoform of kinesin-1, which is a key molecular machinery in facilitating anterograde axonal mitochondrial transport. In this study, we have determined a downregulation of KIF5A in postmortem AD temporal lobes. Further experiments on amyloid beta (Aβ)-treated primary neuron culture and 5 × FAD mice suggest a close association of Aβ toxicity and KIF5A loss. Downregulation of KIF5A mimics Aβ-induced axonal mitochondrial transport deficits, indicating a potential role of KIF5A deficiency in AD-relevant axonal mitochondrial traffic abnormalities. Importantly, the restoration of KIF5A corrects Aβ-induced impairments in axonal mitochondrial transport, especially the anterograde traffic, with little or no impact on retrograde axonal mitochondrial motility. Our findings suggest a novel KIF5A-associated mechanism conferring Aβ toxicity to axonal mitochondrial deficits. Furthermore, the results implicate a potential therapeutic avenue by protecting KIF5A function for the treatment of AD. © 2019 Elsevier Inc.
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    Niclosamide Ethanolamine Improves Diabetes and Diabetic Kidney Disease in Mice
    (e-Century Publishing Corporation) Han, Pengxun; Shao, Mumin; Guo, Lan; Wang, Wenjing; Song, Gaofeng; Yu, Xuewen; Zhang, Chunlei; Ge, Na; Yi, Tiegang; Li, Shunmin; Du, Heng; Sun, Huili; Guo, Lan; Du, Heng
    Diabetes and its renal complications are major medical challenges worldwide. There are no effective drugs currently available for treating diabetes and diabetic kidney disease (DKD), especially in type 1 diabetes (T1D). Evidence has suggested that niclosamide ethanolamine salt (NEN) could improve diabetic symptoms in mice of type 2 diabetes (T2D). However, its role in T1D and DKD has not been studied to date. Here we report that NEN could protect against diabetes in streptozotocin (STZ) induced T1D mice. It increased serum insulin levels, corrected the unbalanced ratio of alpha-cells to beta-cells, and induced islet morphologic changes under diabetic conditions. In addition, NEN could impede the progression of DKD in T1D. Specifically, it reduced urinary albumin levels, NAG, NGAL and TGF-beta 1 excretion, ameliorated renal hypertrophy, alleviated podocyte dysfunction, and suppressed the renal cortical activation of mTOR/4E-BP1 signaling pathway. Moreover, it is hepatoprotective and does not exhibit heart toxicity. Therefore, these findings open up a completely novel therapy for diabetes and DKD.
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    Deregulation of Mitochondrial F1FO-ATP Synthase via OSCP in Alzheimer's Disease
    (Nature Publishing Group) Beck, Simon J.; Guo, Lan; Phensy, Aarron; Tian, Jing; Wang, Lu; Tandon, Neha; Gauba, Esha; Lu, Lin; Pascual, J. M.; Kroener, Sven; Du, Heng; 0000-0003-1728-8111 (Kroener, S); Beck, Simon J.; Guo, Lan; Phensy, Aarron; Tian, Jing; Wang, Lu; Tandon, Neha; Gauba, Esha; Lu, Lin; Kroener, Sven; Du, Heng
    F1FO-ATP synthase is critical for mitochondrial functions. The deregulation of this enzyme results in dampened mitochondrial oxidative phosphorylation (OXPHOS) and activated mitochondrial permeability transition (mPT), defects which accompany Alzheimerâ (tm) s disease (AD). However, the molecular mechanisms that connect F1FO-ATP synthase dysfunction and AD remain unclear. Here, we observe selective loss of the oligomycin sensitivity conferring protein (OSCP) subunit of the F1FO-ATP synthase and the physical interaction of OSCP with amyloid beta (Aβ) in the brains of AD individuals and in an AD mouse model. Changes in OSCP levels are more pronounced in neuronal mitochondria. OSCP loss and its interplay with Aβ disrupt F1FO-ATP synthase, leading to reduced ATP production, elevated oxidative stress and activated mPT. The restoration of OSCP ameliorates Aβ-mediated mouse and human neuronal mitochondrial impairments and the resultant synaptic injury. Therefore, mitochondrial F1FO-ATP synthase dysfunction associated with AD progression could potentially be prevented by OSCP stabilization.
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    Synaptosomal Mitochondrial Dysfunction In 5xFAD Mouse Model of Alzheimer's Disease
    (2018-06-01) Wang, Lu; Guo, Lan; Lu, Lin; Sun, Huili; Shao, Muming; Beck, Simon J.; Li, Lin; Ramachandran, Janani; Du, Yifeng; Du, Heng; 24824108100 (Du. H); Wang, Lu; Guo, Lan; Lu, Lin; Sun, Huili; Beck, Simon J.; Li, Lin; Ramachandran, Janani; Du, Heng
    Brain mitochondrial dysfunction is hallmark pathology of Alzheimer’s disease (AD). Recently, the role of synaptosomal mitochondrial dysfunction in the development of synaptic injury in AD has received increasing attention. Synaptosomal mitochondria are a subgroup of neuronal mitochondria specifically locating at synapses. They play an essential role in fueling synaptic functions by providing energy on the site; and their defects may lead to synaptic failure, which is an early and pronounced pathology in AD. In our previous studies we have determined early synaptosomal mitochondrial dysfunction in an AD animal model (J20 line) overexpressing human Amyloid beta (Aβ), the key mediator of AD. In view of the limitations of J20 line mice in representing the full aspects of amyloidopathy in AD cases, we employed 5xFAD mice which are thought to be a desirable paradigm of amyloidopathy as seen in AD subjects. In addition, we have also examined the status of synaptosomal mitochondrial dynamics as well as Parkin-mediated mitophagy which have not been previously investigated in this mouse model. In comparison to nontransgenic (nonTg mice), 5xFAD mice demonstrated prominent synaptosomal mitochondrial dysfunction. Moreover, synaptosomal mitochondria from the AD mouse model displayed imbalanced mitochondrial dynamics towards fission along with activated Parkin and LC3BII recruitment correlating to spatial learning and memory impairments in 5xFAD mice in an age-dependent manner. These results suggest that synaptosomal mitochondrial deficits are primary pathology in Aβ-rich environments and further confirm the relevance of synaptosomal mitochondrial deficits to the development of AD.
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    Transient Cerebral Ischemia Promotes Brain Mitochondrial Dysfunction and Exacerbates Cognitive Impairments in Young 5xFAD Mice
    (Public Library of Science, 2015-12-03) Lu, Lin; Guo, Lan; Gauba, Esha; Tian, Jing; Wang, Lu; Tandon, Neha; Shankar, Malini; Beck, Simon J.; Du, Yifeng; Du, Heng; Lu, Lin; Guo, Lan; Gauba, Esha; Tian, Jing; Wang, Lu; Tandon, Neha; Shankar, Malini; Beck, Simon J.; Du, Heng
    Alzheimer's disease (AD) is heterogeneous and multifactorial neurological disorder; and the risk factors of AD still remain elusive. Recent studies have highlighted the role of vascular factors in promoting the progression of AD and have suggested that ischemic events increase the incidence of AD. However, the detailed mechanisms linking ischemic insult to the progression of AD is still largely undetermined. In this study, we have established a transient cerebral ischemia model on young 5xFAD mice and their non-transgenic (nonTg) littermates by the transient occlusion of bilateral common carotid arteries. We have found that transient cerebral ischemia significantly exacerbates brain mitochondrial dysfunction including mitochondrial respiration deficits, oxidative stress as well as suppressed levels of mitochondrial fusion proteins including optic atrophy 1 (OPA1) and mitofusin 2 (MFN2) in young 5xFAD mice resulting in aggravated spatial learning and memory. Intriguingly, transient cerebral ischemia did not induce elevation in the levels of cortical or mitochondrial Amyloid beta (Aß)1-40 or 1-42 levels in 5xFAD mice. In addition, the glucose- and oxygen-deprivation-induced apoptotic neuronal death in Aß-treated neurons was significantly mitigated by mitochondria-targeted antioxidant mitotempo which suppresses mitochondrial superoxide levels. Therefore, the simplest interpretation of our results is that young 5xFAD mice with pre-existing AD-like mitochondrial dysfunction are more susceptible to the effects of transient cerebral ischemia; and ischemic events may exacerbate dementia and worsen the outcome of AD patients by exacerbating mitochondrial dysfunction.;

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