Yang Lab

Principal Investigator

The brain is segregated from the rest of the body via the blood-brain barrier and has long been considered as an immune-privileged organ. Recently, this view has shifted with growing evidence showing a complex reciprocal relationship between the immune and nervous systems in health and disease. My laboratory studies how immune cells, anesthetics and sleep regulate changes in neural circuits that are important for sensory processing and memory formation. A combination of techniques, including in vivo two-photon imaging, molecular manipulation, biochemistry, and behavioral analysis, are used to address these questions. We focus on the mechanisms by which pathological immune responses contribute to neurological disorders including chronic pain, perioperative neurocognitive disorders, and Alzheimer’s disease. 

Lab Members

Select Publications

  • BDNF produced by cerebral microglia promotes cortical plasticity and pain hypersensitivity after peripheral nerve injury. Huang L, Jin J, Chen K, You S, Sideris A, Norcini M, Recio-Pinto E, Wang J, Gan WB, Yang G. Plos Biology. 2021; 19 (7):e3001337.

  • P2X7 receptor inhibition ameliorates dendritic spine pathology and social behavioral deficits in Rett syndrome mice. Garré JM, Silva HM, Lafaille JJ, Yang G. Nature Communications. 2020; 11(1):1784.

  • Long-term imaging of dorsal root ganglia in awake behaving mice. Chen C, Zhang J, Sun L, Zhang Y, Gan WB, Tang P, Yang G. Nature Communications. 2019; 10(1):3087.

  • Activation of cortical somatostatin interneurons prevents the development of neuropathic pain. Cichon J, Blanck TJJ, Gan WB, Yang G. Nature Neuroscience. 2017; 20(8):1122-1132.

  • CX3CR1+ monocytes modulate learning and learning-dependent dendritic spine remodeling via TNF-α. Garré JM, Silva HM, Lafaille JJ, Yang G. Nature Medicine. 2017; 23(6):714-722.

  • Post-anesthesia AMPA receptor potentiation prevents anesthesia-induced learning and synaptic deficits. Huang L, Cichon J, Ninan I, Yang G. Science Translational Medicine. 2016; 8(344):344ra85.

  • Sleep promotes branch-specific formation of dendritic spines after learning. Yang G, Lai CS, Cichon J, Ma L, Li W, Gan WB. Science. 2014; 344(6188):1173-8.

  • Stably maintained dendritic spines are associated with lifelong memories. Yang G, Pan F, Gan WB. Nature. 2009; 462(7275):920-4.