Chuan Wu, M.D., Ph.D.

Stadtman Investigator

Experimental Immunology Branch


Building 10, Room 4B17
Bethesda, MD 20892-1360


Research Topics

1. Immune-neuron crosstalk regulates gut sensation.
The intestinal epithelium represents the largest interface which protects the body from potential danger while sensing external milieu. Given that the gut also functions as a major endocrine organ, the efficient translation from environmental cues to neuroendocrine responses is essential for body physiology. By harboring large quantities of microbiota and immune cells, the intestinal tissue is filled with a variety of immune regulators. While certain receptors have been identified to detect different environmental stimuli such as microbial metabolites, irritants, mechanical stress, it is still unclear whether and how immune signals participate in gut sensation to enforce intestinal homeostasis and host defense. We are studying how immune signals integrate into neural regulation for gut sensation during intestinal homeostasis and inflammation.

2. Reciprocal regulations between intestinal epithelium barrier and gut microbiota.
The gastrointestinal (GI) tract is colonized by millions of microbes which have co-evolved with the host. The intestinal epithelium barrier forms the first line of defense against bacterial invasion while providing nutrition to support microbial symbiosis. In turn, gut commensalism controls intestinal barrier integrity and gut physiology. Disruption of this mutualism results in enhancing susceptibility to intestinal inflammation. How such reciprocal interactions modulate intestinal host-microbial symbiosis for barrier function is unclear. We aim to understand the role of host-microbial crosstalk for intestinal barrier function, which could provide new therapeutic targets for the treatment of IBD.


Dr. Wu completed his M.D. at Shanghai Jiaotong University, School of Medicine. He further undertook his doctoral research training at Muenster University, Germany, focusing on T cell migration during inflammation and autoimmunity. Then, he did his post-doctoral training at Brigham and Women’s Hospital, Harvard Medical School, where he studied transcriptional regulation for T cell differentiation. In 2016, Dr. Wu joined the faculty at Brigham and Women’s Hospital, Harvard Medical School as an Assistant Professor and then moved to NCI in 2017 as an Earl Stadtman Investigator, where he re-directed his research to focus on how neuro-immune crosstalk regulates mucosal barrier function. His lab is interested in studying the mechanisms of how neuro-immune interactions contribute to body physiology and pathophysiology, and developing new therapies for immune-mediated diseases.

Selected Publications

  1. Luo J, Chen Z, Castellano D, Bao B, Han W, Li J, Kim G, An D, Lu W, Wu C. Lipids regulate peripheral serotonin release via gut CD1d. Immunity. 2023;56(7):1533-1547.e7.
  2. Li J, Chen Z, Kim G, Luo J, Hori S, Wu C. Cathepsin W restrains peripheral regulatory T cells for mucosal immune quiescence. Sci Adv. 2023;9(28):eadf3924.
  3. Yao Y, Kim G, Shafer S, Chen Z, Kubo S, Ji Y, Luo J, Yang W, Perner SP, Kanellopoulou C, Park AY, Jiang P, Li J, Baris S, Aydiner EK, Ertem D, Mulder DJ, Warner N, Griffiths AM, Topf-Olivestone C, Kori M, Werner L, Ouahed J, Field M, Liu C, Schwarz B, Bosio CM, Ganesan S, Song J, Urlaub H, Oellerich T, Malaker SA, Zheng L, Bertozzi CR, Zhang Y, Matthews H, Montgomery W, Shih HY, Jiang J, Jones M, Baras A, Shuldiner A, Gonzaga-Jauregui C, Snapper SB, Muise AM, Shouval DS, Ozen A, Pan KT, Wu C, Lenardo MJ. Mucus sialylation determines intestinal host-commensal homeostasis. Cell. 2022;185(7):1172-1188.e28.
  4. Chen Z, Luo J, Li J, Kim G, Stewart A, Huang Y, Wu C. Intestinal IL-33 promotes platelet activity for neutrophil recruitment during acute inflammation. Blood. 2022;139(12):1878-1891.
  5. Chen Z, Luo J, Li J, Kim G, Stewart A, Urban JF Jr, Huang Y, Chen S, Wu LG, Chesler A, Trinchieri G, Li W, Wu C. Interleukin-33 Promotes Serotonin Release from Enterochromaffin Cells for Intestinal Homeostasis. Immunity. 2021;54(1):151-163.e6.

Related Scientific Focus Areas

This page was last updated on Monday, July 24, 2023