Department of Neurology
MSC10 5620
Health Sciences Center
1 University of New Mexico
Albuquerque, NM 87131-0001

Administrative Office
Phone: (505) 272-3342
Fax: (505) 272-6692

Clinical Neuroscience Centers

Lomas Center
2211 Lomas Blvd. NE
Phone: (505) 272-3160

Yi Yang, MD, PhD

      The research of Yi Yang’s Laboratory is focused on translational potential and understanding the cellular and molecular mechanisms of brain injury and neurovascular remodeling associated with ischemic stroke and other neurological disorders. The long-term goal is to facilitate the development of more precisely targeted therapeutic approaches to reduce the progressive brain injury cascade and to improve recovery following neurological disorders.

     The Laboratory’s earlier work has been seminal in defining the role of the matrix metalloproteinase (MMPs) in the disruption of the tight junction proteins (TJPs) in blood-brain barrier (BBB) after stroke. Studies on alternate roles of MMPs in the cell nucleus on DNA repair and neuronal apoptotic death has been pioneering in the field. Findings in the Laboratory also indicated the critical role of MMPs, particularly MMP-2 and -3, in stroke-induced angiogenesis during brain repair. 

     Recently, the Yang Laboratory demonstrated that spontaneous angiogenesis vessels in peri-infarct area have high BBB permeability due to lack of two major endothelial TJPs. These findings emphasize the current challenges to promote angiogenesis in ischemic brain as a therapeutic strategy: facilitation of functional BBB restoration and determination of appropriate points of intervention for functional vascular remodeling. Further studies based on animal model and cell cultures have demonstrated that cross-talk between cells in neurovascular unit, such as pericytes, astrocytes, and microglia, plays a critical role in BBB restoration in newly formed vessels in peri-infarct area during stroke recovery.

    The primary focus of Yang’s current NIH- and AHA-funded projects is to characterize the cellular and molecular mechanisms through which functional BBB is formed in response to spontaneous and therapy-induced vascular remodeling in ischemic brain, as well as to monitor dynamic profile of functional neurovascular remodeling during recovery from stroke utilizing interdisciplinary methods. Additional interests of the Laboratory are to elucidate the role of NG2-pericyte pathway in regulating TJPs formation of BBB during stroke-induced vascular remodeling. Experimental approaches involved include rodent models of cerebral ischemia, neuronal and 3D BBB cultures, mouse genetic models, MRI, specific antibody-conjugated nanoparticles, biochemical and molecular studies, histological and behavioral evaluation.