LongJun (Long-Jun) Wu, Ph.D., is interested in studying the role of microglia, the highly dynamic immune cells in the central nervous system, in clinically relevant pathologies such as epilepsy, neuropathic pain and ischemic stroke.
Dr. Wu's Neuroimmune Interaction in Health and Disease Laboratory is focused on microglia-neuron communication in normal and diseased brain tissue. Particularly, he and his team study the molecular mechanism underlying microglial sensing and regulation of neuronal activities.
The use of advanced genetic tools along with a combination of two-photon imaging, electrophysiology, electroencephalography, molecular biology techniques and awake-behavioral studies in rodent models help Dr. Wu and his colleagues identify microglia-specific targets to alleviate neuropathic pain and improve seizure and stroke outcomes.
- Epilepsy. Dr. Wu is interested in understanding the role of microglia in the epileptic brain. Specifically, the physical and molecular interactions between microglia and neurons during epileptiform. His team identified novel forms of microglia-neuron interaction, namely microglial process extension and microglial process convergence toward hyperactive neurons. His current research focuses on understanding how microglial contact with neurons regulates neuronal activity following status epilepticus.
- Neuropathic pain. Dr. Wu's research focuses on targeting microglia for the treatment of neuropathic pain. He and his colleagues recently demonstrated the involvement of microglia in the development of neuropathic pain. They also showed that microglial proliferation contributed to the pain phenotype following peripheral injury. Dr. Wu's team is interested in further dissecting the molecular pathways underlying microglia-mediated development of neuropathic pain.
- Ischemic stroke. Dr. Wu is also working to characterize the function of microglia following ischemic injury. He established that microglia-specific voltage-gated proton channel Hv1 is implicated in neuronal death following ischemic stroke and hence could be targeted to reduce ischemic stroke-induced brain damage. Dr. Wu's team is working on identifying potential microglial targets and pathways involved in ischemic brain injury.
- Autoimmune neurology. In collaboration with Vanda A. Lennon, M.D., Ph.D., Claudia F. Lucchinetti, M.D., and Sean J. Pittock, M.D., Dr. Wu's laboratory established a disease model of neuromyelitis optica (NMO), and a recent study found an intriguing microglia-astrocyte interaction in this NMO model. The results demonstrate the critical role of microglia in driving NMO pathogenesis.
Significance to patient care
Dr. Wu hopes that his research will uncover novel and important functions of microglia in the central nervous system in normal, as well as pathological, conditions. His ultimate goal is to identify microglia-specific therapeutic targets that will complement existing strategies for the treatment of epilepsy, neuropathic pain and ischemic stroke.
- Member, Neuroscience Section, The F1000Prime Faculty, 2013-present
- Section editor, Molecular Brain, 2013-present
- Associate editor, Neuroscience Bulletin, 2018-2020
- Assistant professor of cell biology and neuroscience, Rutgers University, 2012-2016