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Administration Basic Sciences Clinical Sciences Centers of Excellence



Chu Chen, Ph.D.

Professor of Otorhinolaryngology and Neuroscience

2020 Gravier Street, Suite D
New Orleans, LA 70112

Phone: (504) 599-0918

Fax: (504) 599-0488 21st NSR.pdf





1994-1996       Postdoctoral fellow, LSU Health Sciences Center, New Orleans

1989-1993       PhD, Tulane University, New Orleans

1983-1986       MS, Zhejiang Medical University, Hangzhou, China

1979-1983       BS, Nanjing University, Nanjing, China

Academic positions

7/2013 – present
Professor with tenure, Neuroscience Center and Department of Otorhinolaryngology, LSU Health Sciences Center in New Orleans

8/2012 - present
VA’s biomedical laboratory and clinical science research and development non-clinician intramural program member

7/2008 - 6/2013 
Associate Professor with tenure, Neuroscience Center and Department of Otorhinolaryngology, LSU Health Sciences Center in New Orleans

Tenure track Assistant Professor, Department of Otorhinolaryngology and Neuroscience Center of Excellence, LSUHSC

Research Assistant Professor, Department of Otorhinolaryngology and Neuroscience Center of Excellence, LSUHSC

Research Assistant Professor, Department of Otorhinolaryngology, LSUHSC

Lecturer, Department of Physiology, Zhejiang Medical University, Hangzhou, China

Instructor, Department of Physiology, Zhejiang Medical University, Hangzhou, China


Study Sections

  • Alzheimer’s Association grants (2004-2012)
  • National Science Foundation Grants
  • Irish Health Research Board grants, Ireland (2005-2006)
  • Indiana University Alzheimer’s Disease Research Grants (2008-2009)
  • Wellcome Trust Research grants, UK (2010)
  • NIH NIDA Special Emphasis Panel ZDA1 - JXR – D (06) (2011)
  • Medical Research Council (MRC), UK (2012)
Research Interests

Neuromodulation of ion channels;
Neuroinflammation in hippocampal synaptic transmission and plasticity;
Mechanisms of neurodegenerative diseases
(e.g., Alzheimer’s disease);
COX-2 oxidative metabolism of endogenous cannabinoids in
synaptic activity and neuronal survival;
Mechanisms of marijuana-altered synaptic and cognitive function,
and cannabinoid tolerance.

Research Interests

Inflammation is now believed to be a common mechanism of disease.  Neuroinflammation, the inflammatory response that occurs in the nervous system, has been implicated in many brain disorders such as epilepsy, traumatic brain injury and stroke, and in neurodegenerative diseases such as multiple sclerosis, Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s diseases. However, our understanding of the molecular mechanisms underlying neuroinflammation in the pathogeneses of neurodegenerative diseases is still elusive.  My research programs focus on neuroinflammation in synaptic plasticity and neurodegenerative diseases.  Specifically, I am interested in endocannabinoid and prostaglandin signaling in hippocampal synaptic plasticity and pathogenesis of Alzheimer’s disease.  Recent evidence shows that a large proportion of prostaglandins derives from hydrolysis of the endogenous cannabinoid 2-arachidonoylglycerol (2-AG) by the enzyme monoacylglycerol lipase (MAGL), that primarily metabolizes 2-AG in the brain.  While 2-AG exhibits anti-inflammatory and neuroprotective properties, prostaglandins (e.g., PGE2) are proinflammatory and neurotoxic.  Therefore, MAGL plays an important role in regulation of endocannabinoid 2-AG and prostaglandin signaling (See inset).  Thus, inhibition of MAGL will result in strengthening anti-inflammatory and neuroprotective 2-AG signaling, while reducing proinflammatory arachidonic acid and eicosanoid levels.  We are currently addressing this important issue as to whether inactivation of MAGL is able to alter hippocampal synaptic signaling and reduce neuropathology of Alzheimer’s disease and whether epigenetic mechanisms such as noncoding microRNAs are involved in regulation of synaptic plasticity and neuropathology by endocannabinoid and prostaglandin signaling.

cchen image new 071312


Teaching Activities

2002-present Lecture: Investigative Neuroscience 203 to PhD graduate program students

2002-present Lecture: Molecular Neurobiology 250 to PhD graduate program students


Selected Publications

1. Xu J & Chen C. (2014) Endocannabinoids in synaptic plasticity and neuroprotection. Neuroscientist (In press) DOI: 10.1177/1073858414524632

2. Chen R, Zhang J, Fan N, Teng Z, Wu Y, Yang H, Tang Y, Sun H, Song Y & Chen C. (2013) Δ9-THC-caused synaptic and memory impairments are mediated through COX-2 signaling.  Cell 155:1154-1165. (Featured and highlighted in Cell:; Science Signaling: Snuffing Out Marijuana Inflammation. 6(304):ec291,2013:; Nature: Painkiller kills the bad effects of pot. 503(7477):440,2013:; Nature Reviews Neuroscience: Memory: a boost for medical marijuana? 15(1): 2-3,2014:; and covered by various news media)

3. Chen R, Zhang J, Wu Y, Wang D, Feng G, Tang YP, Teng Z & Chen C. (2012) Monoacylglycerol lipase is a therapeutic target for Alzheimer’s diseaseCell Reports 2:1329-1339 (Covered by news media).

4.  He H, Mahnke A, Doyle S, Fan N, Wang C, Hall B, Tang YP, Inglis F, Chen C & Erickson JD (2012) A neurodevelopmental role for VGLUT2 in pyramidal neuron maturation and spatial learningJournal of Neuroscience 32:15886-15901

5.   Xu J, Zhang J & Chen C, (2012) Long-lasting potentiation of hippocampal synaptic transmission by direct cortical input is mediated via endocannabinoidsJournal of Physiology (Lond) 590:2305-2315.

6. Du H, Chen X, Zhang J & Chen C. (2011) Inhibition of COX-2 expression by endocannabinoid 2-arachidonoylglycerol is mediated by PPAR-gBritish Journal of Pharmacology (2011) 163:1533-1549.

7. Chen X, Zhang J & Chen C. Endocannabinoid 2-arachidonoylglycerol protects neurons against b-amyloid insultsNeuroscience (2011) 178:159-168.

8. Yu T, Li Z, Jia Z, Clapcote SJ, Liu C, Li S, Asrar S,  Pao A, Chen R, Fan N, Carattini-Rivera S, Bechard AR, Spring S, Henkelman RM, Stoica G, Matsui S-I, Nowak NJ, Roder JC, Chen C, Bradley A & Yu YE.  A mouse model of Down Syndrome trisomic for all human chromosome 21 syntenic regionsHuman Molecular Genetics (2010) 19:2780–2791.

9. Chen C. COX-2’s new role in inflammationNature Chemical Biology (2010) 6: 401-402.

10. Xu J, Zhang J & Chen C. Endocannabinoids differentially modulate long-term depression in rat hippocampal CA1 pyramidal neuronsPLoS ONE (2010) 5:e10306.

11. Sang N, Zhang J & Chen C.  Anandamide potentiation of miniature spontaneous excitatory synaptic transmission is mediated via IP3 pathwayNeurochemistry International (2010) 56:590-596.

12. Fan N, Yang H, Zhang J & Chen C. Reduced expression of glutamate receptors and phosphorylation of CREB are responsible for Δ9-THC-impaired hippocampal synaptic plasticity.  Journal of Neurochemistry (2010) 112:691-702.

13. Grewal S, Defamie N, Zhang X, Gois SD, Shawki A, Mackenzie B, Chen C, Varoqui H & Erickson JD. SNAT2 amino-acid transporter is regulated by osmolytes of the SLC6 GABA transporter subfamily and may play no role in delivering glutamine for spontaneous glutamatergic transmission.  Journal of Biological Chemistry (2009) 284:11224-11236.

14. Yang H, Zhang J, Breyer RM & Chen C. Altered hippocampal long-term synaptic plasticity in mice deficient in the PGE2 EP2 receptor. Journal of Neurochemistry  (2009) 108: 295-304.

15. Zhang X, Zhang J & Chen C. Long-term potentiation at hippocampal perforant path-dentate astrocyte synapsesBiochemical and Biophysical Research Communication (2009) 383:326-330.

16. Zhang J & Chen C. Endocannabinoid 2-arachidonoylglycerol protects neurons by limiting COX-2 elevationJournal of Biological Chemistry (2008) 283: 22601–22611.

17. Yang H & Chen C.  COX-2 in synaptic signaling. Current Pharmaceutical Design (2008) 14: 1443-1451.

18. Yang H, Zhang J, Andreasson K & Chen C.COX-2 Oxidative metabolism of endocannabinoids augments hippocampal synaptic plasticityMolecular and Cellular Neuroscience (2008) 37: 682-695.

19. Sang N, Zhang J & Chen C. COX-2 oxidative metabolite of endocannabinoid 2-AG enhances excitatory glutamatergic synaptic transmission and induces neurotoxicity. Journal of Neurochemistry (2007) 102: 1966-1977.

20. Sang N & Chen CLipid signaling and synaptic plasticityNeuroscientist (2006) 12: 425-434.

21. Sang N, Zhang J & Chen C. PGE2 glycerol ester, a COX-2 oxidative metabolite of 2-arachidonoyl glycerol, modulates inhibitory synaptic transmission in mouse hippocampal neuronsJournal of Physiology (Lond) (2006) 572: 735-745.

22. Sang N, Zhang J, Marcheselli V, Bazan, NG & Chen C. Postsynaptically synthesized prostaglandin E2 modulates hippocampal synaptic transmission via a presynaptic PGE2 EP2 receptorJournal of Neuroscience (2005) 25: 9858-9870.

23. Chen C. β-Amyloid increases dendritic Ca2+ influx by inhibiting the A-type K+ current in hippocampal CA1 pyramidal neuronsBiochemical and Biophysical Research Communication (2005) 338: 1913-1919.

24. Gois SD, Schafer MK-H, Defamie N, Chen C, Ricci A, Weihe E, Varoqui H & Erickson JD.  Homeostatic scaling of vesicular glutamate and GABA transporters expression in rat neocortical circuitsJournal of Neuroscience  (2005) 25:7121-7133.

25. Chen C & Bazan NG. Lipid signaling: Sleep, synaptic plasticity, and neuroprotectionProst Lipid Mediators (2005) 77: 65-76.

26. Zhu P, Genc A, Zhang X, Zhang J, Bazan NG & Chen C. Heterogeneous expression and regulation of PGE2 receptors in the hippocampus.   Journal of Neuroscience Research (2005) 81: 817-826.

27. Chen C & Bazan NG.  Endogenous PGE2 regulates membrane excitability and synaptic transmission  in rat hippocampal CA1 pyramidal neuronsJournal of Neurophysiology (2005) 93: 929-941.

28. Chen CZD7288 inhibits postsynaptic glutamate receptor-mediated responses at hippocampal perforant path-granule cells synapses.   European Journal of Neuroscience (2004) 19: 643-649.

29. McDermott CM, LaHoste GL, Chen C, Musto A, Bazan NG & Magee JC. Sleep deprivation causes behavioral, synaptic and membrane excitability alterations in hippocampal neuronsJournal of Neuroscience (2003) 23: 9687-9695.

30. Chen C, Magee JC & Bazan NG, Cyclooxygenase-2 regulates prostaglandin E2 signaling in hippocampal long-term synaptic plasticityJournal of Neurophysiology (2002) 87:2851-2857.

31. Rodriguez de Turco EBR, Tang W, Topham MK, Sakane F, Marcheselli VL, Chen C, Taketomi A, Prescott S & Bazan NG.  Diacylglcerol kinase epsilon regulates suizure susceptibility and long-term potentiation through arachidonoyl-inositol lipid signalingProceedings of National Academy of Science USA (2001) 98: 4740-4745.

32. Chen C, Magee JC, Marcheselli V, Hardy M & Bazan NG. Attenuated long-term potentiation in hippocampal dentate gyrus neurons of mice deficient in the PAF receptorJournal of Neurophysiology (2001) 85: 384-390.

Additional Info

Current Funding   

Source: NIH-NINDS   R01NS076815 6/15/2012-3/31/2017

Title: Endocannabinoids in neurodegenerative diseases.

Role on Grant: PI. 


Source:  NIH-NIA  R21AG039669  4/1/2011-3/31/2013

Title: MAGL inhibition in prevention and treatment of Alzheimer’s disease.

Role on Grant: PI.


Source:   NIH-NINDS   R01NS054886   6/1/2007-11/30/2012

Title: Endocannabinoids in COX-2 mediated synaptic modification and neurotoxicity.

Role on Grant: PI.