Photo of Minghua Li

Minghua Li

  • (503) 494-0759
    • Research Assistant Professor of Neurological Surgery School of Medicine

My research is focused on understanding cellular mechanisms of synaptic plasticity involved in brain injury (stroke or brain ischemia) and chronic pain using multiple techniques.

Currently, my focus is brainstem pain-modulating systems, including rostral ventromedial medulla (RVM) and periaqueductal grey (PAG). These systems are also an important substrate for opioids and cannabinoids. For the past decade, almost all cellular/molecular studies of RVM neuron properties following persistent inflammation have employed slices from neonatal (postnatal day <18) because the organization and abundance of myelinated fibers in this region make it a challenging area for whole-cell patch-clamp recording in adults. This has become increasingly problematic as many laboratories are now finding significant differences in the function of the RVM between neonatal and adult rats. We pioneered whole-cell patch-clamp recordings from adult RVM slices and have demonstrated that GABAergic signaling and endocannabinoid modulations in RVM neurons undergo significant developmental changes. We also identified changes in cannabinoid regulation of RVM neurons in chronic pain states.  Using different animal models of chronic pain, we are interested in identify the plasticity of these pain-modulating systems. We are using in vivo pain assessments, in vitro electrophysiological recordings from adult brainstem slices, combined with optogenetic manipulation of terminals in the RVM or PAG for these studies.

Read more


  • B.S., Lanzhou University, Lanzhou, Gansu 1984
  • MSc, Henan University, Henana China 1996
  • Ph.D., Shanghai Institute of Meteria Medica, Shanghai China 2003


  • "Amphetamine and Methamphetamine Increase NMDAR-GluN2B Synaptic Currents in Midbrain Dopamine Neurons." Neuropsychopharmacology In: , Vol. 42, No. 7, 01.06.2017, p. 1539-1547.
  • "Compensatory activation of cannabinoid CB2 receptor inhibition of GABA release in the rostral ventromedial medulla in inflammatory pain." Journal of Neuroscience In: , Vol. 37, No. 3, 18.01.2017, p. 626-636.
  • "Optogenetic evidence for a direct circuit linking nociceptive transmission through the parabrachial complex with pain-modulating neurons of the rostral ventromedial medulla (RVM)." eNeuro In: , Vol. 4, No. 3, e0202-17.2017, 2017.
  • "Modulation of acid-sensing ion channel 1a by intracellular pH and its role in ischemic stroke." Journal of Biological Chemistry  In: , Vol. 291, No. 35, 26.08.2016, p. 18370-18383.
  • "Sex differences in GABA signaling in the periaqueductal gray induced by persistent inflammation." Journal of Neuroscience In: , Vol. 36, No. 5, 03.02.2016, p. 1669-1681.
  • "Suppression of TRPM7 Inhibits Proliferation, Migration, and Invasion of Malignant Human Glioma Cells." CNS Neuroscience and Therapeutics  In: , Vol. 21, No. 3, 01.03.2015, p. 252-261.
  • "GABAergic transmission and enhanced modulation by opioids and endocannabinoids in adult rat rostral ventromedial medulla." Journal of Physiology In: , Vol. 593, No. 1, 01.01.2015, p. 217-230.
  • "Amphetamine Modulates Excitatory Neurotransmission through Endocytosis of the Glutamate Transporter EAAT3 in Dopamine Neurons." Neuron In: , Vol. 83, No. 2, 16.07.2014, p. 404-416.
  • "Acid-sensing ion channels in mouse olfactory bulb M/T neurons." Journal of General Physiology  In: , Vol. 143, No. 6, 2014, p. 719-731.
  • "Differential control of opioid antinociception to thermal stimuli in a knock-in mouse expressing regulator of G-protein signaling-insensitive Gαo protein." Journal of Neuroscience In: , Vol. 33, No. 10, 06.03.2013, p. 4369-4377.
  • "An anti-coagulation agent futhan preferentially targets GABA receptors in lung epithelia : Implication in treating asthma." International Journal of Physiology, Pathophysiology and Pharmacology  In: , Vol. 3, No. 4, 15.12.2011, p. 249-256.
  • "Calcium-permeable ion channels involved in glutamate receptor-independent ischemic brain injury." Acta Pharmacologica Sinica  In: , Vol. 32, No. 6, 06.2011, p. 734-740.
  • "Inhibition of acid sensing ion channel currents by lidocaine in cultured mouse cortical neurons." Anesthesia and Analgesia  In: , Vol. 112, No. 4, 01.01.2011, p. 978-981.
  • "Ion channels as targets for cancer therapy." International Journal of Physiology, Pathophysiology and Pharmacology  In: , Vol. 3, No. 2, 2011, p. 156-166.
  • "Suppression of TNF receptor-1 signaling in an in vitro model of epileptic tolerance." International Journal of Physiology, Pathophysiology and Pharmacology  In: , Vol. 3, No. 2, 2011, p. 120-132.
  • "Developmental change in the electrophysiological and pharmacological properties of acid-sensing ion channels in CNS neurons." Journal of Physiology  In: , Vol. 588, No. 20, 10.2010, p. 3883-3900.
  • "Acid-sensing ion channels in acidosis-induced injury of human brain neurons." Journal of Cerebral Blood Flow and Metabolism  In: , Vol. 30, No. 6, 06.2010, p. 1247-1260.
  • "Diarylamidines : High potency inhibitors of acid-sensing ion channels." Neuropharmacology In: , Vol. 58, No. 7, 06.2010, p. 1045-1053.
  • "Activation of Acid-sensing Ion Channel 1a (ASIC1a) by surface trafficking." Journal of Biological Chemistry In: , Vol. 285, No. 17, 23.04.2010, p. 13002-13011.
  • "Polycomb group proteins as epigenetic mediators of neuroprotection in ischemic tolerance." Science Signaling  In: , Vol. 3, No. 111, 02.03.2010.
  • "The modulation of TRPM7 currents by nafamostat mesilate depends directly upon extracellular concentrations of divalent cations." Molecular Brain In: , Vol. 3, No. 1, 38, 2010.
  • "Characterization of acid-sensing ion channels in medium spiny neurons of mouse striatum." Neuroscience In: , Vol. 162, No. 1, 04.08.2009, p. 55-66.
  • "Deciphering the MSG controversy." International Journal of Clinical and Experimental Medicine  In: , Vol. 2, No. 4, 2009, p. 329-336.
  • "Acid-sensing ion channels (ASICs) as pharmacological targets for neurodegenerative diseases." Current Opinion in Pharmacology In: , Vol. 8, No. 1, 02.2008, p. 25-32.
  • "Transient receptor potential melastatin 7-like current in human head and neck carcinoma cells : Role in cell proliferation." Cancer Research  In: , Vol. 67, No. 22, 15.11.2007, p. 10929-10938.
  • "A kinase-anchoring protein 150 and calcineurin are involved in regulation of acid-sensing ion channels ASIC1a and ASIC2a." Journal of Biological Chemistry In: , Vol. 282, No. 31, 03.08.2007, p. 22668-22677.
  • "Modulation of D2R-NR2B Interactions in Response to Cocaine." Neuron In: , Vol. 52, No. 5, 07.12.2006, p. 897-909.
  • "Modulation of acid-sensing ion channel currents, acid-induced increase of intracellular Ca2+, and acidosis-mediated neuronal injury by intracellular pH." Journal of Biological Chemistry  In: , Vol. 281, No. 39, 29.09.2006, p. 29369-29378.

Additional information

Edit profile