Weihua Zhao

Weihua Zhao, MD, PhD

Assistant Research Professor of Neurology, Academic Institute
Assistant Research Member, Research Institute
Houston Methodist
Weill Cornell Medical College


Biography

During her postdoctoral training, Dr. Zhao conducted research on amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) or Lou Gehrig’s disease. She investigated the roles of glutamate-mediated cytotoxicity, immune-mediated injury, and oxidative stress in motor neuron death. She also investigated the potential for a new phospholipid agent, VP025, to inhibit immune activation and protect motor neurons from injury. After completing her postdoctoral fellowship, Dr. Zhao joined the Methodist Hospital Research Institute as a scientist in the Department of Neurology.

Description of Research

Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), commonly known as Lou Gehrig’s disease, is a progressive neurodegenerative disease that attacks motor neurons in the brain and spinal cord. Dr. Zhao is interested in the underlying mechanisms of neuroinflammation on motor neuron death and relevant therapeutic targets. Current research efforts aim to understand the roles of microglia/monocytes and T-cells on immune-mediated injury and repair in ALS. Dr. Zhao is investigating the neuroprotective potential of regulatory immune cells as new therapeutic options for ALS. Gene mutations on SOD1, TDP-43, and C9ORF72 have been linked to ALS. Dr. Zhao is also interested in the pathology of various mutant proteins as well as abnormal peptides, and how they affect interactions among motor neurons, microglia, and T-cells in ALS.

Areas Of Expertise

Inflammation ALS Lou Gehrig’s disease Immune Suppression Neuroprotection Neurocytotoxicity
Education & Training

Postdoctoral Fellowship, Baylor College of Medicine
MD, Beijing Medical University, Beijing
PhD, Peking University
Publications

Ex vivo expansion of dysfunctional regulatory T lymphocytes restores suppressive function in Parkinson’s disease
Thome, AD, Atassi, F, Wang, J, Faridar, A, Zhao, W, Thonhoff, JR, Beers, DR, Lai, EC & Appel, SH 2021, , npj Parkinsons Disease, vol. 7, no. 1, 41. https://doi.org/10.1038/s41531-021-00188-5

Elevated acute phase proteins reflect peripheral inflammation and disease severity in patients with amyotrophic lateral sclerosis
Beers, DR, Zhao, W, Neal, DW, Thonhoff, JR, Thome, AD, Faridar, A, Wen, S, Wang, J & Appel, SH 2020, , Scientific Reports, vol. 10, no. 1, 15295, pp. 15295. https://doi.org/10.1038/s41598-020-72247-5

Elevated acute phase proteins reflect peripheral inflammation and disease severity in patients with amyotrophic lateral sclerosis
Beers, D, Zhao, W, Neal, D, Thonhoff, JR, Thome, AD, Faridar, A & Appel, SH 2020, , Scientific Reports, vol. 10, no. 1, 32943739.

Immunosuppressive Functions of M2 Macrophages Derived from iPSCs of Patients with ALS and Healthy Controls
Zhao, W, Beers, DR, Thonhoff, JR, Thome, AD, Faridar, A, Wang, J, Wen, S, Ornelas, L, Sareen, D, Goodridge, HS, Svendsen, CN & Appel, SH 2020, , iScience, vol. 23, no. 6, pp. 101192. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.isci.2020.101192

Immunosuppressive Functions of M2 Macrophages Derived from iPSCs of Patients with ALS and Healthy Controls
Zhao, W, Beers, DR, Thonhoff, JR, Thome, AD, Faridar, A, Wang, J, Wen, S, Ornelas, L, Sareen, D, Goodridge, HS, Svendsen, CN & Appel, SH 2020, , iScience, vol. 23, no. 6, 101192. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.isci.2020.101192

Increased activation ability of monocytes from ALS patients
Du, Y, Zhao, W, Thonhoff, JR, Wang, J, Wen, S & Appel, SH 2020, , Experimental Neurology, vol. 328, 32105709. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.expneurol.2020.113259

Increased activation ability of monocytes from ALS patients.
Yunlan, DU, Zhao, W & Appel, SH 2020, , Experimental Nephrology, vol. 328, 32105709.

Restoring regulatory T-cell dysfunction in Alzheimer's disease through ex vivo expansion
Faridar, A, Thome, AD, Zhao, W, Thonhoff, JR, Beers, DR, Pascual, B, Masdeu, JC & Appel, SH 2020, , Brain communications, vol. 2, no. 2, pp. fcaa112. https://doi.org/10.1093/braincomms/fcaa112

Functional alterations of myeloid cells during the course of Alzheimer's disease
Thome, AD, Faridar, A, Beers, DR, Thonhoff, JR, Zhao, W, Wen, S, Pascual, B, Masdeu, JC & Appel, SH 2018, , Molecular Neurodegeneration, vol. 13, no. 1, pp. 61. https://doi.org/10.1186/s13024-018-0293-1

Expanded autologous regulatory T-lymphocyte infusions in ALS
Thonhoff, JR, Beers, DR, Zhao, W, Pleitez, M, Simpson, EP, Berry, JD, Cudkowicz, ME & Appel, SH 2018, Neurology - Neuroimmunology Neuroinflammation, vol. 5, no. 4.

Expanded autologous regulatory T-lymphocyte infusions in ALS A phase I, first-in-human study
Thonhoff, JR, Beers, DR, Zhao, W, Pleitez, M, Simpson, EP, Berry, JD, Cudkowicz, ME & Appel, SH 2018, , Neurology: Neuroimmunology and NeuroInflammation, vol. 5, no. 4, e465, pp. e465. https://doi.org/10.1212/NXI.0000000000000465

The role of regulatory T lymphocytes in amyotrophic lateral sclerosis
Beers, DR, Zhao, W & Appel, SH 2018, , JAMA Neurology, vol. 75, no. 6, pp. 656-658. https://doi.org/10.1001/jamaneurol.2018.0043

Characterization of Gene Expression Phenotype in Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis Monocytes
Zhao, W, Beers, DR, Hooten, KG, Sieglaff, DH, Zhang, A, Kalyana-Sundaram, S, Traini, CM, Halsey, WS, Hughes, AM, Sathe, GM, Livi, GP, Fan, GH & Appel, SH 2017, , JAMA Neurology, vol. 74, no. 6, pp. 677-685. https://doi.org/10.1001/jamaneurol.2017.0357

ALS patients' regulatory T lymphocytes are dysfunctional, and correlate with disease progression rate and severity
Beers, DR, Zhao, W, Wang, J, Zhang, X, Wen, S, Neal, D, Thonhoff, JR, Alsuliman, AS, Shpall, EJ, Rezvani, K & Appel, SH 2017, , JCI insight, vol. 2, no. 5, pp. e89530. https://doi.org/10.1172/jci.insight.89530

TDP-43 activates microglia through NF-?B and NLRP3 inflammasome
Zhao, W, Beers, DR, Bell, S, Wang, J, Wen, S, Baloh, RH & Appel, SH 2015, , Experimental Neurology, vol. 273, pp. 24-35. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.expneurol.2015.07.019

Protective and Toxic Neuroinflammation in Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis
Hooten, KG, Beers, DR, Zhao, W & Appel, SH 2015, , Neurotherapeutics, vol. 12, no. 2, pp. 364-375. https://doi.org/10.1007/s13311-014-0329-3

The Role of Regulatory T Cells and Microglia in Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis
Beers, D, Zhao, W, Hooten, KG & Appel, SH 2015, . in S David (ed.), Neuroinflammation: New Insights into Beneficial and Detrimental Functions. Wiley, pp. 235-249. https://doi.org/10.1002/9781118732748.ch15

Role of Inflammation in Neurodegenerative Diseases
Appel, SH, Beers, D & Zhao, W 2015, . in Neurobiology of Brain Disorders: Biological Basis of Neurological and Psychiatric Disorders. Elsevier, pp. 380-395. https://doi.org/10.1016/B978-0-12-398270-4.00025-2

Neuroimmunology of Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis
Henkel, JS, Beers, D, Zhao, W & Appel, SH 2014, . in Neuroinflammation and CNS Disorders. Wiley, pp. 185-209. https://doi.org/10.1002/9781118406557.ch8

Immune-mediated mechanisms in the pathoprogression of amyotrophic lateral sclerosis
Zhao, W, Beers, DR & Appel, SH 2013, , Journal of Neuroimmune Pharmacology, vol. 8, no. 4, pp. 888-899. https://doi.org/10.1007/s11481-013-9489-x