Ru-Rong Ji

Professor in Anesthesiology
Distinguished Distinguished Professor of Anesthesiology, in the School of Medicine
Professor in Neurobiology
Professor in Cell Biology
Email address:

Chronic pain is a major health problem in the US, affecting 100 million Americans. The long-term goal of the lab is to identify molecular and cellular mechanisms that underlie the genesis of chronic pain and, furthermore, to develop novel pain therapeutics that can target these mechanisms. We are interested in the following questions. (1) How do neuroinflammation and activation of glial cells (microglia and astrocytes) regulate pain and spinal cord synaptic plasticity via neuro-glial and neuro-immune interactions? (2) How do secreted miRNAs regulate neuronal signaling and synaptic transmission and pain as novel neuromodulators and pain mediators? (3) How do pro-resolution lipid mediators such as resolvins and protectin control pain via GPCR and arrestin signaling? (4) Do pain and itch share similar mechanisms? (5) How does Toll-like receptor (TLR) signaling in primary sensory neurons regulate pain and itch? (6) How can bone marrow stem cells produce long-term pain relief via secreting anti-inflammatory and trophic factors? We employ a multidisciplinary approach that covers in vitro, ex vivo, and in vivo electrophysiology, neuronal and glial cell biology, transgenic mice, and behaviors.

Education and Training

  • Chinese Academy of Sciences (China), Ph.D. 1990

Associated Faculty Labs

Department Affiliation

  • Department of Anesthesiology


Liu, Chien-Cheng, Yong-Jing Gao, Hao Luo, Temugin Berta, Zhen-Zhong Xu, Ru-Rong Ji, and Ping-Heng Tan. “Interferon alpha inhibits spinal cord synaptic and nociceptive transmission via neuronal-glial interactions.” Sci Rep 6 (September 27, 2016): 34356.
Berta, T., Y. J. Qadri, G. Chen, and R. R. Ji. “Microglial Signaling in Chronic Pain with a Special Focus on Caspase 6, p38 MAP Kinase, and Sex Dependence.” J Dent Res 95, no. 10 (September 2016): 1124–31.
Chen, Gang, Rou-Gang Xie, Yong-Jing Gao, Zhen-Zhong Xu, Lin-Xia Zhao, Sangsu Bang, Temugin Berta, et al. “β-arrestin-2 regulates NMDA receptor function in spinal lamina II neurons and duration of persistent pain.” Nat Commun 7 (August 19, 2016): 12531.
Taves, Sarah, Temugin Berta, Da-Lu Liu, Sophie Gan, Gang Chen, Yong Ho Kim, Thomas Van de Ven, Stefan Laufer, and Ru-Rong Ji. “Spinal inhibition of p38 MAP kinase reduces inflammatory and neuropathic pain in male but not female mice: Sex-dependent microglial signaling in the spinal cord.” Brain Behav Immun 55 (July 2016): 70–81.
Liu, Xing-Jun, Tong Liu, Gang Chen, Bing Wang, Xiao-Lu Yu, Cui Yin, and Ru-Rong Ji. “TLR signaling adaptor protein MyD88 in primary sensory neurons contributes to persistent inflammatory and neuropathic pain and neuroinflammation.” Sci Rep 6 (June 17, 2016): 28188.
Martini, Alessandra Cadete, Temugin Berta, Stefânia Forner, Gang Chen, Allisson Freire Bento, Ru-Rong Ji, and Giles Alexander Rae. “Lipoxin A4 inhibits microglial activation and reduces neuroinflammation and neuropathic pain after spinal cord hemisection.” J Neuroinflammation 13, no. 1 (April 8, 2016): 75.
Liu, Tong, Qingjian Han, Gang Chen, Ya Huang, Lin-Xia Zhao, Temugin Berta, Yong-Jing Gao, and Ru-Rong Ji. “Toll-like receptor 4 contributes to chronic itch, alloknesis, and spinal astrocyte activation in male mice.” Pain 157, no. 4 (April 2016): 806–17.
Jiang, Bao-Chun, De-Li Cao, Xin Zhang, Zhi-Jun Zhang, Li-Na He, Chun-Hua Li, Wen-Wen Zhang, et al. “CXCL13 drives spinal astrocyte activation and neuropathic pain via CXCR5.” J Clin Invest 126, no. 2 (February 2016): 745–61.
Singh, Sandeep K., Jeff A. Stogsdill, Nisha S. Pulimood, Hayley Dingsdale, Yong Ho Kim, Louis-Jan Pilaz, Il Hwan Kim, et al. “Astrocytes Assemble Thalamocortical Synapses by Bridging NRX1α and NL1 via Hevin.” Cell 164, no. 1–2 (January 14, 2016): 183–96.
Ji, Ru-Rong. “Neuroimmune interactions in itch: Do chronic itch, chronic pain, and chronic cough share similar mechanisms?” Pulm Pharmacol Ther 35 (December 2015): 81–86.