Selected Publications
  • Garza JC, Kim CS, Liu J, Zhang W, and Lu X-Y. (2008) AAV-mediated knockdown of MC4R in the paraventricular nucleus of the hypothalamus promotes high-fat diet-induced hyperphagia and obesity. Journal of Endocrinology 197(3):471-82.
  • Garza JC, Guo M, Zhang W and Lu X-Y. (2008) Leptin promotes adult hippocampal neurogenesis in vivo and in vitro. Journal of Biol Chem 283(26):18238-47.
  • Paz J, Yao H, Lim HS, Lu X-Y, and Zhang W .The neuroprotective role of attractin in neurodegeneration. Neurobiol Aging 2007; 28(9):1446-1456.
  • Walker WP, Aradhya S, Hu CL, Shen S, Zhang W, Azarani A, Lu X-Y, Barsh GS, Gunn TM. Genetic analysis of attractin homologs. Genesis 2007; 45(12):744-756.
  • Liu J, Garza J, Truong H, Henschel J, Zhang W, Lu X-Y. The melanocortinergic pathway is rapidly recruited by emotional stress and mediates stress-induced anorexia and anxiety-like behavior. Endocrinology, 2007; 148(11):5531-5540.
  • Lu X-Y, Kim CS, Frazer A, Zhang W. Leptin: A potential novel antidepressant, Proc Natl Acad Sci USA, 2006 Jan; 103(5):1593-1598.
  • Zhang W and Arcos R. Interaction of the adenovirus major core protein precursor, pVII, with the viral DNA packaging machinery. Virology, 2005; 334:194-202.
  • Vincent AM, Feldman EL, Song DK, Jung V, Schilder A, Zhang W, Imperiale MJ, and Boulis NM. Adeno-associated viral-mediated insulin-like growth factor delivery protects motor neurons in an in vitro. Neuromolecular Medicine, 2004; 6:79-85.
Wei Zhang

Wei Zhang

Assistant Professor of Pharmacology
M.D., Binzhou Medical College (China)
Ph.D., Washington State University

Office: 210-567-8510



Neurodegeneration, Neuroprotection, Parkinson's disease, leptin, Attractin


Research Summary

My current research interest focuses on the molecular mechanisms of neurodegenerative diseases, such as Parkinson's disease (PD), and the development of neuroprotective strategies for slowing down the disease progression. Parkinson's disease is characterized by progressive and selective loss of dopaminergic neurons in the substantia nigra (SN) pars compacta and subsequent striatal dopamine depletion causing ridigity, tremor, bradykinesia and postural imbalance. The cause of PD remains largely unknown. Many genetic factors have been identified to be responsible for the familial forms of these disorders. However, the majority of these disorders are sporadic with unknown causes, possibly involving multiple genetic and other factors, in which environment and aging play major roles. With the advances of our understanding of the pathogenesis of PD, varieties of potential neuroprotective strategies including anti-oxidant, anti-apoptotic drugs, anti-inflammatory drugs and others are being studied or evaluated. We are investigating the functions of gene products, such as attractin (Atrn), Mahogunin (Mgrn1), and leptin, in protecting dopaminergic neurons from progressive degeneration using both chemical-induced and genetic PD animal models.