Ji Zhang

Associate Professor
Ji Zhang
Contact Information
Email address: 
ji.zhang [at] mcgill.ca

Research Interests

My research interest and objectives are to understand the contribution of the immune system in abnormal pain behavior. We use various animal models of chronic pain to mimic human disease conditions. We dissect underlying mechanisms with sophisticated molecular, cellular and behavioral experimental approaches. We expect that our findings will advance the understanding on how the immune system and non-neuronal cells interfere with neuronal function, resulting in sensory disorders. Our goal is to provide insights for new treatment strategies.

Three research themes are currently active in my laboratory:

  • Theme 1: The involvement of the immune system in chronic pain;
  • Theme 2: Molecular and cellular mechanisms of autoimmune peripheral neuropathy;
  • Theme 3: The influence of dietary habit and gut microbiota in pain behavior


Areas of expertise: 
  • Glial cell biology
  • Nervous system
  • Immune response
  • Pain
  • Behavior
Research areas: 
Pain and Neuroscience
Selected publications: 

Articles in peer reviewed journals.

  1. A Fan, O Oladiran, XQ Shi, J Zhang (2020) Mice on a high-salt diet feel more pain that is mediated by a CCR2 dependent inflammatory mechanism Journal of Neuroinflammation 2020, 178:179
  2. YH Yang, R Istomine, F Alvarez, T Al-Aubodah, XQ Shi, T Takano, J Zhang, and CA. Piccirillo (2020) Salt-sensing by Serum/Glucocorticoid Regulated Kinase 1 (SGK1) promotes a Th17 phenotype in Foxp3+ regulatory T cells Cell Rep. 2020 Feb 4;30(5):1515-1529
  3. M Millecamps, XQ Shi, M Piltonen, S Echeverry, L Diatchenko, J Zhang, LS. Stone (2019) Cutaneous thresholds, tonic and chronic pain are differentially affected by ageing in mice Neurobiology of Aging 2019 Dec 31. pi: S0197-4580(19)30447-6
  4. O Oladiran, M Yang, VA Gimenez Rivera, XQ Shi, JM Huang, S Fournier, J Zhang (2019) Murine cytomegalovirus infection in mice results in an acute inflammatory reaction in peripheral nerves J Neuroimmunol. 2019 Oct 15;335: 577017
  5. M Yang, XQ Shi, C Peyret, S Wu, J Chambon, S Fournier and J Zhang (2018). Effector memory CD8 T cells synergize with co-stimulation competent macrophages to trigger autoimmune peripheral neuropathy in mice Brain Behav Immun. 71:142-157.
  6. GY F Wang, XQ Shi, WJ Wu, M Gueorguieva, M Yang, J Zhang (2018) Sustained mouth opening leads to development of painful temporomandibular disorders involving macrophage/microglia activation in mice Pain 159(7):1277-1288
  7. SH Lee, XQ Shi, A Fan and J Zhang (2018) Targeting macrophage and microglia activation with colony stimulating factor 1 receptor (CSF1R) inhibitor is an effective strategy to treat injury-triggered neuropathic pain. Molecular Pain 2018 Jan-Dec;14: 1744806918764979.
  8. S Echeverry, XQ Shi, M Yang, H Huang, YC Wu, LE Lorenzo, J Perez-Sanchez, RP. Bonin, Y De Koninck, Ji Zhang (2017). Spinal microglia are required for long term maintenance of neuropathic pain Pain 158(9):1792-1801
  9. Y Yao, S Echeverry, XQ Shi, M Yan, QZ Yang, GYF Wang, J Chambon, YC Wu, KY Fu, Y De Koninck, J Zhang (2016) Dynamics of spinal microglia repopulation following an acute depletion. Scientific Reports 6:22839
  10. M Rone, QL Cui, J Fang, LC Wang, D Khan, J Zhang, R Jones, G Almazan, S Ludwin, T Kennedy, and J Antel (2016) Oligodendrogliopathy in multiple sclerosis: Low glycolytic metabolic rate promotes oligodendrocyte survival Journal of Neuroscience; 36(17):4698-707
  11. B S Mietto, A Kroner, E I Girolami,XE Santos-Nogueira, J Zhang and S David (2015) Role of IL-10 in Resolution of Inflammation and Functional Recovery after Peripheral Nerve Injury The J of Neuroscience, 35(50):16431–16442
  12. SH Lee, YS Wu, XQ Shi, J Zhang (2015) Characteristics of spinal microglia in aged and obese mice: potential contributions to impaired sensory behavior. Immunity & Ageing. Nov 24; 12:22.
  13. M Yang, C Peyret, XQ Shi, N Siron, JH Jang, S Wu, S Fournier and J Zhang (2015) Evidence from human and animal studies: Pathological roles of CD8+ T cells in autoimmune peripheral neuropathies. Frontiers in Immunology Oct 15; 6:532.
  14. TK Lim, MB Rone, S Lee, JP Antel, J Zhang. (2015) Mitochondrial and bioenergetic dysfunction in trauma-induced painful peripheral neuropathy. Mol Pain. Sep 17; 11(1):58.
  15. RE Sorge, JC Mapplebeck, S Rosen, S Beggs, S Taves S, JK Alexander, LJ Martin, JS Austin, SG Sotocinal, D Chen, M Yang, XQ Shi, H Huang, NJ Pillon, PJ Bilan, Y Tu, A Klip, RR Ji, J Zhang, MW Salter, JS Mogil (2015). Different immune cells mediate mechanical pain hypersensitivity in male and female mice.Nat Neurosci.18(8):1081-3.
  16. TK Lim, XQ Shi, JM Johnson, MB. Rone, JP. Antel, S David, J Zhang. (2015). Peripheral nerve injury induces persistent vascular dysfunction and endoneurial hypoxia, contributing to the genesis of neuropathic pain. Journal of Neuroscience 35(8):3346-59.
  17. M Yang, A Ranoine, XQ Shi, S Fournier, J Zhang (2014) A New Animal Model of Spontaneous Autoimmune Peripheral Polyneuropathy: Implications for Guillain Barré Syndrome Acta Neuropathologica Communications, 2:5, doi:10.1186/2051-5960-2-5
  18. T KY Lim, XQShi, H Huang, H Martin, J Zhang (2014) Blood-nerve barrier dysfunction contributes to the generation of neuropathic pain and allows targeting of injured nerves for pain relief Pain;155(5):954-67.
  19. S Echeverry, YC WU and J Zhang (2013) Selectively reducing cytokine/chemokine expressing macrophages in injured nerves impairs the development of neuropathic pain Experimental Neurology 240:205-18
  20. JV Ragavendran, A Laferrière, WH Xiao, G Bennett, SSV Padi, J Zhang, T Coderre (2012) Topical combinations aimed at treating microvascular dysfunction reduce allodynia in rat models of CRPS-I and neuropathic pain J Pain 14(1):66-78
  21. SH Lee and J Zhang (2012) Heterogeneity of macrophages in injured trigeminal nerves: Cytokine/chemokine expressing vs. phagocytic macrophages, Brain, Behavior and Immunity 26: 891-903
  22. SSV Padi, Xiang Q Shi, Yuan Q Zhao, Michael R. Ruff, Noel Baichoo, Candace B. Pert, and Ji Zhang (2012) Attenuation of Rodent Neuropathic Pain by an Orally Active Peptide, RAP-103, which Potently Blocks CCR2 and CCR5 Mediated Monocyte Chemotaxis and Inflammation Pain 153(1): 95-106
  23. S Nadeau, M Filali, J Zhang, S Rivest, D Soulet, Y Iwakura, JP de Rivero Vaccari, RW. Keane, and S Lacroix (2011) Functional Recovery after Peripheral Nerve Injury Depends on Proinflammatory Cytokines that Mediate Pain J of Neuroscience 31 (35):12533-12542
  24. S Echeverry, XQ Shi, S Rivest , J Zhang (2011) Peripheral nerve injury alters blood spinal cord barrier functional and molecular integrity through a selective inflammatory pathway J of Neuroscience 31(30):10819-10828
  25. XQ Shi, T Lim, YQ Zhao, J Zhang (2011) Statins alleviate experimental nerve injury induced neuropathic pain Pain 152(5):1033-43
  26. SH Lee, YQ Zhao, A Ribeiro-da-Silva, J Zhang (2010) Distinctive response of CNS glial cells in oro-facial pain associated with injury, infection and inflammation Molecular Pain 6:79
  27. XQ Shi, H Zekki and J Zhang (2010) Role of TLR2 in nerve injury induced-neuropathic pain is essentially mediated through peripheral inflammatory response Glia 59: 231-241
  28. S Echeverry, XQ Shi, A Haw, L Hong, ZW Zhang, J Zhang (2009). Transforming growth factor beta1 impairs neuropathic pain through pleiotropic effect. Molecular Pain 27, 5: 16
  29. S Echeverry, XQ Shi, J Zhang (2008). Characterization of cell proliferation in rat spinal cord following peripheral nerve injury. Pain 135 (1-2): 37-47
  30. J Zhang, XQ Shi, S Echeverry, JS Mogil, Y De Koninck, S Rivest (2007) Expression of CCR2 in both resident and bone marrow-derived microglia plays a critical role in neuropathic pain. J of Neuroscience 27(45): 12396-12406
  31. J. Zhang, Y. De Koninck (2006). Spatial and temporal relationship between MCP-1 expression and spinal microglial activation following peripheral nerve injury. J.Neurochem. 97, 772-783
  32. F Mennicken, J Zhang, C Hoffert, S Ahmad, A Beaudet, D O’Donnell (2003). Phylogenetic changes in the expression of delta opioid receptors in spinal cord and dorsal root ganglia. J. Comp. Neurol. 465(3): 349-60.
  33. J Zhang, C Hoffert, HK Vu, T Groblewski, S Ahmad, D O’Donnell (2003). Induction of CB2 receptor expression in the rat spinal cord of neuropathic but not inflammatory chronic pain models. Eur. J. Neurosci, 17(12): 2750-4.
  34. PMC Lembo, E Grazzini, T Groblewski, D O'Donnell, M-O Roy, J Zhang, C Hoffert, J Cao, R Schmidt, M Pelletier, M Labarre, M Gosselin, Y Fortin, D Banville, SH Shen, P Ström, K Payza, A Dray, P Walker & S Ahmad (2002). Proenkephalin A gene products activate a new family of sensory neuron-specific GPCRs. Nature Neuroscience, Vol 5, No 3: 201-209
  35. V Blais, J Zhang, S Rivest (2002). In altering the release of glucocorticoids, ketorolac exacerbates the effects of systemic immune stimuli on expression of proinflammatory genes in the brain. Endocrinology, 143(12): 4820-7.
  36. J Zhang and S Rivest (2001). Anti-inflammatory effects of prostaglandin E2 in the central nervous system in response to brain injury and circulating lipopolysaccharide. J.Neurochem. 2001 Feb; 76(3): 855-64.
  37. J Zhang and S Rivest. (2000). A functional analysis of EP4 receptor-expressing neurons in mediating the action of prostaglandin E2 within specific nuclei of the brain in response to circulating interleukin-1beta. J. Neurochem. 74 (5): 2134-45.
  38. J Zhang and S Rivest (1999). Distribution, regulation and colocalization of the genes encoding the EP2- and EP4-PGE2 receptors in the rat brain and neuronal responses to systemic inflammation. Eur. J. Neurosci. 11 (8): 2651-68

Reviews and Book Chapters 

  1. J Zhang, S Echeverry, TK Lim, SH Lee, XQ Shi, H Huang. (2015). Can Modulating Inflammatory Response be a Good Strategy to Treat Neuropathic Pain? Current Pharmaceutical Research. 21(7):831-9.
  2. J Zhang. (2015) Peripheral and central immune mechanisms in neuropathic pain, Chapter 7, 109-121, Neuroinflammation: New Insights into Beneficial and Detrimental Functions, Wiley.
  3. S Echeverry, SH Lee, T Lim, J Zhang (2011) Inflammation mediates nerve injury triggered neuropathic pain In Nerve injury, InTech Open Access Publisher chapter 12, 203-214.
  4. J Zhang and Y De Koninck (2009) Central Neuroglial Interactions in the Pathophysiology of Neuropathic Pain. In Functional Chronic Pain Syndromes: Similarities and Differences in Clinical Presentation and Pathophysiology, IASP Press,
  5. RJ. Miller, W Rostene, E Apartis, G Banisadr, K Biber, ED. Milligan, FA. White, J Zhang (2008). Chemokine action in the nervous system. J of Neuroscience 28(46):11792-5
  6. J Zhang and S Echeverry (2007) Monocyte chemoattractant protein-1 and chronic pain. In Leah R. Grinwald (ed) Chemokine research trends, Novapublishers. Chapter 7, p107-120.
  7. J Zhang (2006). Involvement of monocyte chemoattractant protein-1 in peripheral nerve injury induced neuropathic pain. Reviews in Analgesia 9: 13-20.
  8. J Zhang and S Rivest (2004) Arachidonate metabolites in neurophysiological system: The fever pathway. In The Eicosanoids JohnWiley& Sons Limited. Chapter 42, 463-472.
  9. J Zhang and S Rivest (2003). Is survival possible without arachidonate metabolites in the brain during systemic infection? News in Physiological Sciences, 18:137-142.
  10. S Rivest, S Lacroix, L Valliere, S Nadeau, J Zhang and N Laflamme (2000). How the blood talks to the brain parenchyma and the paraventricular nucleus of the hypothalamus during systemic inflammatory and infectious stimuli. Proc. Soc. Exp. Biol. Med. 223 (1): 22-38.


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