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Children's Nutrition Research Center - Faculty

Houston, Texas

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Children's Nutrition Research Center - Faculty
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Yong Xu, M.D., Ph.D.

Assistant Professor, Baylor College of Medicine



Bachelor of Medicine (equivalent to M.D.) – Tongji Medical University, Wuhan, Hubei, China.
M.Sc. – Gastroenterology – Tongji Medical University, Wuhan, Hubei, China.

Ph.D. – Cell Biology – University of Alberta, Edmonton, Alberta, Canada.
Postdoctoral Fellow – Division of Hypothalamic Research, University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center, Dallas, TX.

Xu Lab

Dr. Xu lab group

Research Interests

The goal of my research is to identify the novel neural circuits, neurotransmitters and intra-neuronal signals that are critical for coordinated control of body weight, glucose balance and blood pressure. The critical approach that makes the cornerstone of my laboratory efforts is targeted gene manipulation in mice. We use the Cre-loxP and/or Flpe-frt strategy to achieve tissue or cell-specific gene deletion or re-activation in functional animals. This genetic approach is supplemented by neuroanatomy, electrophysiology, systemic physiology, biochemistry, molecular biology and cell-based techniques. .

Ongoing projects in the laboratory include:

  1. To identify the critical ER-expressing neurons and the downstream circuits that mediate estrogenic effects on body weight, glucose and blood pressure.
  2. To explore the roles of nuclear receptor co-activators in the hypothalamus in the context of obesity and diabetes.
  3. To reveal the mechanisms by which the central 5-HT neural circuits regulate binge eating.

Representative Publications

  1. Zhu L, Yang Y, Xu P, Zou F, Yan X, Liao L, Xu J, O’Malley BW, Xu Y. Steroid receptor co-activator-1 mediates estrogenic actions to prevent body weight gain in female mice. Endocrinology 2013 Jan;154(1):150-8.
  2. Tong Q and Xu Y. Central Leptin Regulation of Obesity and Fertility. Current Obesity Reports 2012 Dec 1;1(4):236-244.
  3. Xu Y, Faulkner LD and Hill JW. Cross-talk between metabolism and reproduction: The Role of POMC and SF-1 Neurons. Frontiers in Systems and Translational Endocrinology 2012 Jan 4; 2: 1-13.
  4. Xu Y, Nedungadi TP, Zhu L, Sobhani N, Irani BG, Davis KE, Zhang X, Zou F, Gent LM, Hahner LD, Khan SA, Elias CF, Elmquist JK and Clegg DJ. Distinct Hypothalamic Neurons Mediate Estrogenic Effects on Energy Homeostasis and Reproduction. Cell Metabolism 2011 Oct 5;14(4):453-465.
  5. Xu Y, Elmquist JK and Fukuda Makoto. Central nervous control of energy and glucose balance: focus on central melanocortin system. Annals of the New York Academy of Sciences 2011 (in press).
  6. Sohn JW, Xu Y, Jones JE, Wickman K, Williams KW, Elmquist JK. Serotonin 2C receptor activates a distinct population of arcuate nucleus pro-opiomelanocortin neurons via TRPC channels. Neuron 2011 Aug 11;71(3):488-97. PMID: 21835345.
  7. Kim KW, Zhao L, Donata J , Khono D, Xu Y, Lee C, Parker K, Elmquist JK. Steroidogenic Factor 1 Directs Programs Regulating Diet-Induced Thermogenesis and Leptin Action in the Ventral Medial Hypothalamic Nucleus. Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 2011 Jun 28;108(26):10673-8. PMID: 21636788.
  8. Marino JS, Xu Y, Hill JW. Central insulin and leptin-mediated autonomic control of glucose homeostasis. Trends Endocrinol Metab. 2011 July;22(7):275-85. PMID: 21489811.
  9. Kim KW, Sohn JW, Kohno D, Xu Y, Williams K, Elmquist JK. SF-1 in the ventral medial hypothalamic nucleus: A key regulator of homeostasis. Mol Cell Endocrinol. 2011 Apr 10;336(1-2):219-23.
  10. Xu Y, Berglund DE, Sohn JW, Holland WL, Chuang JC, Fukuda M, Rossi J, Williams KW, Jones JE, Zigman JM, Lowell BB, Scherer PE and Elmquist JE. 5-HT2CRs Expressed by Pro-opiomelanocortin Neurons Regulate Insulin Sensitivity in Liver. Nature Neuroscience. 2010 Dec;13(12):1457-9.
  11. Xu Y, Jones JE, Lauzon DA, Anderson JG, Balthasar N, Heisler LK, Zinn AR, Lowell BB and Elmquist JK. A Serotonin and Melanocortin Circuit Mediates d-Fenfluramine Anorexia. The Journal of Neuroscience. 2010 Nov 3;30(44):14630-4.
  12. Xu Y, Hill JW, Gautron L, Lee CE, Choi MJ, Dhillon H, Lowell BB, Zigman JM, Zhao JJ and Elmquist JK. PI3K signalling in ventromedial hypothalamic nucleus is required for normal energy homeostasis. Cell Metabolism. 2010 Jul 4;12(1):88-95.
  13. Hill JW, Elias CF, Fukuda M, Cho YR, Chuang JC, Xu Y, Choi MJ, Balthasar N, Coppari R, Scherer PE, Brüning JC, Lowell BB, Elmquist JK. Direct Insulin and Leptin Action in Pro-opiomelanocortin Neurons is Required for Normal Glucose Homeostasis and Fertility. Cell Metabolism. 2010 Apr 7;11(4):286-97.
  14. Hill JW, Xu Y (joint first author), Preitner F, Fukuda M, Cho YR, Luo L, Balthasar N, Coppari R, Cantley LC, Kahn BB, Zhao JJ, Elmquist JK. PI3K signaling in hypothalamic POMC neurons contributes to the regulation of glucose homeostasis. Endocrinology. 2009 Nov;150(11):4874-82.
  15. Xu Y, Jones JE, Kohno D, Williams KW, Lee CE, Choi MJ, Anderson JG, Heisler LK, Zigman JM, Lowell BB and Elmquist JK. 5-HT2CRs expressed by pro-opiomelanocortin neurons regulate energy homeostasis. Neuron. 2008 Nov;60(4):582-589.
  16. Xu Y and Krukoff TL. Adrenomedullin stimulates nitric oxide production from primary rat hypothalamic neurons: roles of calcium and phosphatases. Molecular Pharmacology. 2007 Jul;72(1):112-20.
  17. Xu Y and Krukoff TL. Adrenomedullin in the rostral ventrolateral medulla inhibits baroreflex control of heart rate: a role for protein kinase A. British Journal of Pharmacology. 2006 May;148(1):70-7.
  18. Xu Y and Krukoff TL. Adrenomedullin stimulates nitric oxide release from SK-N-SH human neuroblastoma cells by modulating intracellular calcium mobilization. Endocrinology. 2005 May;146(5):2295-305.
  19. Xu Y and Krukoff TL. Adrenomedullin in the rostral ventrolateral medulla increases arterial pressure and heart rate: roles of glutamate and nitric oxide. American Journal of Physiology- Regulatory, Integrative and Comparative Physiology. 2004 Oct;287(4):R729-34.
  20. Xu Y and Krukoff TL. Decrease in arterial pressure induced by adrenomedullin in the hypothalamic paraventricular nucleus of is mediated by nitric oxide and GABA. Regulatory Peptides 119: 21-30, 2004.

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