Current Research Program
Dr. Liu's research is geared toward determining the mechanisms mediating functional recovery and neural plasticity following cerebral ischemia and brain trauma. The major focus of Dr. Liu's current work is to define mechanisms supporting endogenous neural regeneration following ischemic injury. Using rodent models of focal and global ischemia, her lab studies the functional recovery associated with the hippocampus, an area that is injured or indirectly affected by both models of stroke. The adult hippocampus is known to regenerate after stroke by means of the neuroprogenitor cells located in the dentate gyrus. This was discovered by using BrdU immunohistochemistry and confocal microscopy, demonstrating an up-regulation of cell proliferation in the dentate gyrus subgranular zone (SGZ) in gerbils that received ischemic insult. This was the first evidence of neuronal plasticity following ischemic injury, and could potentially contribute to cognitive function improvement in stroke patients. Recent studies have been carried out to investigate the role of neural regeneration in mediating functional recovery and ways to augment this regeneration by environmental enrichment and behavioral interventions. Current projects involve elucidating neurogenesis signaling events and pathways by using proteomic approaches including 2-D gel electrophoresis and tandem mass spectrometry.