Lance Johnson

Postdoctoral Fellow


Obesity and type 2 diabetes (T2D) have reached epidemic levels worldwide. Meanwhile, the population has begun a rapid shift toward older age. Combined, these two factors generate a perfect storm in which the number of individuals suffering from cognitive impairment and dementia is expanding rapidly. This is because obesity, insulin resistance and T2D are associated with decreased cognitive function and an increased risk of developing dementia.  

While the two pathologies of diabetes and dementia appear to be strongly linked, the shared cellular and molecular mechanisms that could explain this connection have yet to be found. Our research here at OHSU is focused on better understanding this critical connection.   


Phone:  (503) 494-1431


University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill, North Carolina
      PhD, Molecular & Cellular Pathology, 2011
      BA, Journalism & Mass Communication, 2003       


  1. Johnson LA, Zuloaga D, Bidiman E, Marzulla T, Weber S, Wahbeh H, Raber J. ApoE2 exaggerates PTSD-related behavioral, cognitive and neuroendocrine alterations. Neuropsychopharmacology. 2015 May 10. doi: 10.1038/npp.2015.95  
  2. Perez-Diaz S, Johnson LA, Dekroon RM, Moreno-Navarrete JM, Alzate O, Fernandez-Real JM, Maeda N, Arbones-Mainar JM. Polymerase I and transcript release factor (PTRF) regulates adipocyte differentiation and determines adipose tissue expandability. FASEB J. 2014 August ;28(8):3769-79. PMCID: PMC4101648 [Available on 2015-08-01]
  3. Zuloaga DG, Johnson LA, Agam M, Raber J. Sex Differences in Methamphetamine Activation of the Hypothalamic Pituitary Adrenal Axis. J Neurochem. 2014 May;129(3):495-508. PMCID: PMC3997586
  4. Johnson LA, Olsen RHJ, Merkens LS, DeBarber A, Steiner RD, Sullivan PM, Maeda N, Raber J.  Apolipoprotein E – Low Density Lipoprotein Receptor Interaction Affects Spatial Memory Retention and Brain ApoE Levels in an Isoform-Dependent Manner. Neurobiol Dis. 2014 Apr;64:150-62. PMCID: PMC3936477
  5. Haley GE, Yeiser L, Olsen RH, Davis MJ, Johnson LA, Raber J.  Early Effects of Whole-Body (56)Fe Irradiation on Hippocampal Function in C57BL/6J Mice. Radiat Res. 2013 May;179(5):590-6.PMCID: PMC4117374
  6. Olsen RJ, Johnson LA, Zuluoga D, Raber J.  Enhanced hippocampus-dependent memory and reduced anxiety in mice over-expressing human catalase in mitochondria. J Neurochem. 2013 Feb 5. doi: 10.1111/jnc.12187. PMCID: PMC3676474
  7. Johnson LA, Kim HS, Knudson MJ, Nipp CT, Yi X, Maeda N.  Diabetic atherosclerosis in APOE*4 mice: Synergy between lipoprotein metabolism and vascular inflammation.  J Lipid Res. 2013 Feb;54(2):386-96.  PMCID: PMC3588868
  8. Pendse AA, Johnson LA, Kim HS, McNair M, Nipp CT, Wilhelm C, Maeda N.  Pro- and Antiatherogenic Effects of a Dominant-Negative P465L Mutation of Peroxisome Proliferator-Activated Receptor-γ in Apolipoprotein E-Null Mice.  Arterioscler Thromb Vasc Biol. 2012 Jun;32(6):1436-44. PMCID: PMC3389794
  9. Johnson LA, Arbones-Mainar JM, Fox RG, Maeda N.  Exaggerated diabetic dyslipidemia and atherosclerosis in Ldlr-/- mice expressing human Apolipoprotein E4. Diabetes. 2011 Sep;60(9):2285-94. PMCID: PMC3161311
  10. Pendse AA, Johnson LA, Tsai YS, Maeda N.  Pparg-P465L mutation worsens hyperglycemia in Ins2-Akita female mice via adipose-specific insulin resistance and storage dysfunction. Diabetes. 2010 Nov;59(11):2890-7. PMCID: PMC2963548.
  11. Arbones-Mainar JM, Johnson LA, Altenburg MK, Kim HS, Maeda N. Impaired adipogenic response to TZDs in mice expressing human apolipoproteinE4. FASEB J. 2010 Oct;24(10):3809-18. PMCID: PMC2996914    
  12. Johnson LA, Maeda N.  Macrovascular complications of diabetes in atherosclerosis prone mice.  Expert Review of Endocrinology & Metabolism, January 2010, Vol. 5, No. 1, Pages 89-98  
  13. Pendse A, Arbones-Mainar JM, Johnson L, Altenburg M, Maeda N.  ApoE Knock-out and Knock-in Mice:  Atherosclerosis, Metabolic Syndrome, and Beyond.  J Lipid Res.  2009 Apr;50 Suppl:S178-82.   PMCID: PMC2674752
  14. Arbones-Mainar JM, Johnson LA, Altenburg MK, Maeda N.  Differential modulation of diet-induced obesity and adipocyte functionality by human apolipoprotein E3 and E4 in mice.  Int J Obes (Lond). 2008 Oct;32(10):1595-605. PMCID: PMC2805194.
  15. Johnson LA, Altenburg MK, Walzem RL, Scanga LT, Maeda N.  Absence of Hyperlipidemia in LDL Receptor-Deficient Mice Having Apolipoprotein B100 Without the Putative Receptor-Binding Sequences. Arterioscler Thromb Vasc Biol. 2008 Oct;28(10):1745-52. 
  16. Altenburg M, Arbones-Mainar J, Johnson L, Wilder J, Maeda N.  Human LDL receptor enhances sequestration of ApoE4 and VLDL remnants on the surface of hepatocytes but not their internalization in mice. Arterioscler Thromb Vasc Biol. 2008 Jun;28(6):1104-10.   
  17. Maeda N, Johnson L, Kim S, Hagaman J, Friedman M, Reddick R.  Anatomical differences and atherosclerosis in apolipoprotein E-deficient mice with 129/SvEv and C57BL/6 genetic backgrounds. Atherosclerosis. 2007 Nov;195(1):75-82.  
  18. Altenburg M, Johnson L, Wilder J, Maeda N.  Apolipoprotein E4 in macrophages enhances atherogenesis in a low density lipoprotein receptor-dependent manner. J Biol Chem. 2007 Mar 16;282(11):7817-24.     

Link to PubMed, Publications List     


American Heart Association, 14POST20380093, Postdoctoral Fellowship, 7/1/14-6/30/16
"Type 2 Diabetes, APOE Genotype, and Cerebrovascular Health"
The aim of this study is to determine the effects of apoE isoform on cerebrovascular and cognitive dysfunction caused by T2D and following an intervention aimed at restoring these functions.
Role: PI                                                  

National Science Foundation, SMA-1408653, Postdoctoral Fellowship, 6/1/14-5/31/16
"The apoE-LDLR interaction, anxiety, and cognition in the aging brain"                                    
This project explores the connections between brain metabolism, anxiety and cognition in the elderly population.
Role: PI                                                  

National Institute of Health, NIH T32-HL094294, Post-Doctoral Training Grant, 11/1/13-10/31/14
"Training in Translational Science and Cardiovascular Medicine"                                                   
This project integrates the study of cerebral hemodynamics and metabolomics in the setting of diabetes and cognitive dysfunction.
Role: Trainee (PI: Thornburg)       

Collins Medical Trust, 10/1/13 –10/31/14
"Diet-induced obesity, ApoE and cognitive dysfunction"                                                
This project examines the joint effects of apoE and diet-induced obesity on cerebrovascular health and cognitive function. Role: PI                                                  

N.L. Tartar Research Fellowship, 7/1/13 – 6/30/14
"Effects of APOE genotype on diabetes-induced brain inflammation"                                         
This project investigates inflammation as a potential link between apoE, diabetes and cognitive impairment.
Role: PI                                                  

Oregon Tax Check-off Grant Alzheimer's Research Fund, 9/1/12-8/31/13 
"The role of apoE in diabetes induced cognitive dysfunction"                                                  
This project examines the interaction of diet-induced insulin resistance and ApoE isoform on cognitive function and the progression of memory loss.
Role: PI                                                  

National Institute of Health, NIEHS T32 ES07060, Post-Doctoral Training Grant, 11/01/11-10/31/13
"Mode of action of environmental toxicants"                                                                            
The goal of this project is to determine the interaction of the environmental risk factor of diet and the genetic risk factor of ApoE isoform on the pathogenesis of Alzheimer's disease.
Role: Trainee (PI:  Tanguay)        

American Heart Association, Pre-Doctoral Fellowship, 10PRE3880032, 7/01/10-10/31/11 
"Apolipoprotein E4 in diabetic dyslipidemia and atherosclerosis"                                               
This study examines the regulatory effects of the ApoE isoforms on hepatic metabolism, dyslipidemia and the progression of atherosclerosis during diabetes
Role: PI                                                    


  • Poster Presentation Award, NeuroFutures Conference, 2015   
  • Trainee of the Year, Best Oral Presentation, Knight Cardiovascular Institute, Oregon Health & Science University, 2014 & 2015 
  • Distinguished Dissertation Award, Department of Molecular & Cellular Pathology, 2011, University of North Carolina  
  • The North Carolina Impact Award, Graduate Education Advancement Board, 2008, University of North Carolina  
  • NIDDK Scholarship, Keystone Symposium, Complications of Diabetes & Obesity, 2008  
  • Biomedical Translational Research Award, Translational Medicine Training Program, 2006, University of North Carolina

Page last updated: July 30, 2015