Faculty Profile

Dr. Dongsheng Cai, Ph.D., M.D.

Dongsheng Cai, Ph.D., M.D.

Professor, Department of Molecular Pharmacology

Professional Interests

Our research interest is focused on understanding the role of central nervous system in the development and intervention of metabolic syndrome, aging and related diseases. First, we are studying the interactions between various signaling cascades and neuronal regulatory network that underlie the development of obesity- and aging-associated neural dysfunctions and subsequent whole-body pathophysiology. Second, we are identifying intrinsic molecular and cellular pathways which can counteract obesity- and aging-related neural dysfunctions. Finally, we are aiming to develop novel and effective strategies of molecular and cell therapies to break the pathogenic connections, leading to the prevention and treatment of metabolic and aging-related diseases.   

Selected Publications

Zhang, G., Li, J., Purkayastha, S., Tang, Y., Zhang, H., Yin, Y., Li, B., Liu, G., Cai, D. Hypothalamic programming of systemic aging involving IKKβ/NF-κB and GnRH. Nature(Article), 497 (7748): 211-216. 2013.

(Highlighted by Nature News & Views commentary; select article in Cell; recommended as a top-10 article of Faculty 1000 Prime)


Liu, T., Cai, D. Counterbalance between BAG and URX neurons via guanylate cyclases controls lifespan homeostasis in C. elegans. EMBO J., 32: 1529–1542, 2013. (Highlighted as EMBO J commentary)


Li J, Tang Y, Cai D. IKKβ/NF-κB disrupts adult hypothalamic neural stem cells to mediate a neurodegenerative mechanism of dietary obesity and pre-diabetes. Nature Cell Biology, 14(10):999-1012, 2012.

(Highlighted as Nature Cell Biology commentary,  Nature Cell Biology, 14 (10): 987-9, 2012)


Cai, D. Neuroinflammation and neurodegeneration in overnutrition-induced diseases. Trends Endocrinol. Metab., 24 (1): 40-47, 2013. 


Purkayastha S, Zhang G,Cai D. Uncoupling the mechanisms of obesity and hypertension by targeting hypothalamic IKKβ/NF-κB. Nature Medicine, 17 (7): 883-7, 2011.

(Highlighted as Nature Medicine news, highlighted by a preview in Cell Metabolism, 14 (7): 3-4, 2011)


Zhang H, Zhang G, Gonzalez, F, Park S, Cai D. Hypoxia-Inducible Factor Directs POMC Gene to Mediate Hypothalamic Glucose Sensing and Energy Balance Regulation. PLoS Biology, 9 (7): e1001112, 2011.

(Highlighted by the primer report of PLoS Biology, 9(7): e1001116, 2011.)


Meng Q, Cai D. Defective hypothalamic autophagy mediates central pathogenesis of obesity via IKK-beta/NF-kappaB pathway. Journal of Biological Chemistry, 2011 Jul 22. [Epub ahead of print]


Zhang G, Bai H, Zhang H, Dean C, Wu Q, Li J, Guariglia S, Meng Q, and Cai D. Neuropeptide exocytosis involving synaptotagmin-4 and oxytocin in hypothalamic programming of body weight and energy balance. Neuron, 69(3): 523-35, 2011.

 (Featured Neuron article, highlighted by preview in Neuron, highlighted as a top 2% article of Faculty 1000)


Purkayastha S, Zhang H, Zhang G, Ahmed Z, Wang Y, and Cai D. Neural dysregulation of peripheral insulin action and blood pressure by brain endoplasmic reticulum stress. Proc Natl Acad Sci USA, 108(7):2939-44, 2011.


Zhang X, Zhang G, Zhang H, Karin M, Bai H and Cai D.  Hypothalamic IKKβ/NF-κB and ER stress link overnutrition to energy imbalance and obesity. Cell, 134 (7): 61-73, 2008.

(Highlighted by preview in Cell, highlighted as a top-10 article of Faculty 1000)


Cai D, Yuan M, Frantz JD, Melendez P, Hansen L, Lee J, and Shoelson SE. Local and systemic insulin resistance resulting from hepatic activation of IKKb/NF-kB.  Nature Medicine, 11(2): 183-90, 2005.

(Highlighted as a cover reportof Nature Medicine)


Cai D, Frantz JD, Tawa NE, Melendez PA, Oh B, Lidov HG, Hasselgren PO, Frontera WR, Lee J, Glass DJ, and Shoelson SE. IKKb/NF-kB activation causes severe muscle wasting in mice. Cell, 119(2): 285-298, 2004.   

(Highlight in Science STKE 2004:256; Highlight in Science Aging Knowl. Environ. 2004:42; Commentary in Cell 2004, 119(7):907-10)



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Albert Einstein College of Medicine
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Research Information

Media Coverage

Aging is all in your mind. Nature features new research by Dr. Dongsheng Cai that found the hypothalamus is key to controlling the body’s aging processes.

More media coverage