Li-Yen Mae Huang, Ph.D., Professor

  • Affiliations: Department of Neuroscience & Cell Biology
  • Route: 1069, 2.143 Medical Research Building (MRB)
  • Tel: (409) 772-1946
  • Fax: (409) 762-9382
  • Huang CV

Li-Yen Mae Huang, Ph.D.

General Information

Mason Guest Distinguished Professor, Department of Neuroscience and Cell Biology

Sabbatical with Professor Erwin Neher, Max-Planck-Institut Für Biophsikalische Chemie, Germany

Staff Fellow, National Institutes of Health

Postdoctoral Fellow, Physiology, Mayo Clinic

Ph.D. in Biophysics, The State University of New York at Buffalo

Research Interests

Molecular and Cellular Mechanisms of Chronic Pain

The research focus of this laboratory is to understand the mechanisms underlying pain and nociception. We have concentrated our studies on plastic changes in cell signaling following nerve or inflammatory lesions. Dorsal root ganglion (DRG) neurons and dorsal horn neurons in the spinal cord and caudal medulla play central roles in the transmission and integration of nociceptive information. Understanding the membrane properties of these neurons, their responses to ATP, glutamate and opioids and the involvement of G-proteins and second messenger signaling have led to insights into the basis of abnormal sensory information processing in the injurious state.

Another research focus is to design an effective genetic approach for the treatment of chronic pain. Increasing mu-opioid receptor expression in DRGs using adeno-associated viral vectors has proven to be a promising strategy for improving opioid potency in relieving neuropathic pain. This strategy should be useful for patients with spinal cord or nerve injury, back pain and limb loss, who are unresponsive to conventional opioid therapy

The third research interest is to understand the mechanism of transmitter release from cell bodies of DRG neurons and to determine the significance of this release in neuron-satellite glial cell communication.

Patch recordings, Ca2+ and FM dye imaging, receptor gene modification, western and behavioral analyses are the techniques used in these studies.


Zhang, X., Chen, Y, Wang, C. and Huang, L.-Y. M. Neuronal somatic ATP release triggers neuron-satellite glial cell communication in dorsal root ganglia, PNAS 104:9864-9869, 2007

Wang, C., Gu, Y. Li, G.W., and Huang, L.-Y. M., A critical role of cAMP sensor Epac in switching protein kinase signaling in prostaglandin E2-induced potentiation of P2X3 receptor currents in inflamed rats J. Physiol (London) 584.1:191-203, 2007

Gu, Y., Xu, Y.,, Li, G.W., and Huang, L.-Y.M. Remote nerve injection of mu-opioid receptor adeno-associated viral vector increases antinociception of intrathecal morphine,  J. Pain, 6:447-54, 2005

Chen, Y., Gu, Y., Wang, C., Li, G.W., Huang, L.-Y. M. Sensitization and enhanced trafficking of P2X3 receptors in the neuropathic pain state. Pain 119 38-48, 2005

Xu, G.-Y. and Huang, L.-Y.M. Ca2+/calmodulin-dependent protein kinase II potentiates ATP responses by promoting trafficking of P2X receptors. PNAS. 101:11868-11873, 2004.

Xu, Y., Gu, Y., Wu, P., Li, G.-W. and Huang, L.-Y.M. Efficiencies of transgene expression in nociceptive neurons through different routes of delivery of adeno-associated viral vectors. Human Gene Therapy 14:897-906, 2003.

Xu, Y., Gu, Y., Xu, G.Y., Wu, P., Li, G.W., and Huang L.-Y.M. Adeno-associated viral transfer of opioid receptor gene to primary sensory neurons: A strategy to increase opioid antinociception. PNAS 100:6204-6209, 2003.

Wu, P., Tarasenko, Y.I., Gu, Y., Huang, L.-Y.M., Coggeshall, R.E. and Yu, Y. Region-specific generation of cholinergic neurons from fetal human neural stem cells grafted in adult rat. Nature Neurosci. 5:1271-1278, 2002.

Xu G.-Y. and Huang L.-Y. M.  Peripheral inflammation sensitizes P2X receptor mediated responses in rat dorsal root ganglion neurons. J. Neurosci. 22:93-102, 2002