Xiaorong Liu


  • PhD, University of Virginia

Primary Appointment

  • Assistant Professor, Biology


Research Interest(s)

Developing novel neuroprotection strategies to preserve vision in glaucoma

Research Description

I have been interested in understanding the regulation and misregulation of retinal structures and functions during normal development and in diseased conditions since my PhD study. I started my own laboratory in 2008 as a research assistant professor in Neurobiology and Physiology at Northwestern University, mainly working on visual system development and function. I started my tenure-track position in Ophthalmology in 2011, around which time I expanded my research interests to investigating how visual system degenerates in mouse models of experimental glaucoma. Glaucoma is a major cause of blindness characterized by progressive retinal ganglion cell (RGC) death and vision loss. Much remains to be investigated how RGCs degenerate and die with glaucoma progression. Our research on RGC normal development and function provides unique and innovative tools to characterize RGC degeneration in glaucoma, which is much needed to advance the field. In my laboratory, we have established mouse models of experimental glaucoma to study RGC death and its underlying molecular mechanisms. We combine mouse genetics, in vivo imaging, molecular biology, and physiology techniques to study the structural and functional development of RGCs as well as how RGCs degenerate in glaucoma. Moreover, we are also interested in developing novel neuroprotection strategies to preserve vision in glaucoma. For more information, please visit my website.

Selected Publications

  • Puyang Z, Feng L, Chen H, Liang P, Troy J, Liu X. Retinal Ganglion Cell Loss is Delayed Following Optic Nerve Crush in NLRP3 Knockout Mice. Scientific reports. 2016;6 20998. PMID: 26893104 | PMCID: PMC4759563
  • Yi J, Puyang Z, Feng L, Duan L, Liang P, Backman V, Liu X, Zhang H. Optical Detection of Early Damage in Retinal Ganglion Cells in a Mouse Model of Partial Optic Nerve Crush Injury. Investigative ophthalmology & visual science. 2016;57(13): 5665-5671. PMID: 27784071 | PMCID: PMC5089219
  • Cang J., Renteria R. C., Kaneko M., Liu X., Copenhagen D. R., Stryker M. P.. Development of precise maps in visual cortex requires patterned spontaneous activity in the retina Neuron. 48(5): 797-809.
  • Cantrell D. R., Cang J., Troy J. B., Liu X.. Non-centered spike-triggered covariance analysis reveals neurotrophin-3 as a developmental regulator of receptive field properties of ON-OFF retinal ganglion cells PLoS Comput Biol. 6(10): e1000967.
  • Chen H., Liu X., Tian N.. Subtype-dependent postnatal development of direction- and orientation-selective retinal ganglion cells in mice J Neurophysiol. 112(9): 2092-101.
  • Chen H., Zhao Y., Liu M., Feng L., Puyang Z., Yi J., Liang P., Zhang H. F., Cang J., Troy J. B., Liu X.. Progressive degeneration of retinal and superior collicular functions in mice with sustained ocular hypertension Invest Ophthalmol Vis Sci. 56(3): 1971-84.
  • Du J., Feng L., Zaitsev E., Je H. S., Liu X. W., Lu B.. Regulation of TrkB receptor tyrosine kinase and its internalization by neuronal activity and Ca2+ influx J Cell Biol. 163(2): 385-95.
  • Feng L., Chen H., Yi J., Troy J. B., Zhang H. F., Liu X.. Long-Term Protection of Retinal Ganglion Cells and Visual Function by Brain-Derived Neurotrophic Factor in Mice With Ocular Hypertension Invest Ophthalmol Vis Sci. 57(8): 3793-802.
  • Feng L., Puyang Z., Chen H., Liang P., Troy J. B., Liu X.. Overexpression of Brain-Derived Neurotrophic Factor Protects Large Retinal Ganglion Cells After Optic Nerve Crush in Mice eNeuro. 4(1).
  • Feng L., Zhao Y., Yoshida M., Chen H., Yang J. F., Kim T. S., Cang J., Troy J. B., Liu X.. Sustained ocular hypertension induces dendritic degeneration of mouse retinal ganglion cells that depends on cell type and location Invest Ophthalmol Vis Sci. 54(2): 1106-17.
  • Feng L.,, Chen H.,, Suyeoka G.,, Liu X.. A Laser-induced Mouse Model of Chronic Ocular Hypertension to Characterize Visual Defects Journal of Visualized Experiments. .
  • Liu X., Green C. B.. A novel promoter element, photoreceptor conserved element II, directs photoreceptor-specific expression of nocturnin in Xenopus laevis J Biol Chem. 276(18): 15146-54.
  • Liu X., Green C. B.. Circadian regulation of nocturnin transcription by phosphorylated CREB in Xenopus retinal photoreceptor cells Mol Cell Biol. 22(21): 7501-11.
  • Liu X., Grishanin R. N., Tolwani R. J., Renteria R. C., Xu B., Reichardt L. F., Copenhagen D. R.. Brain-derived neurotrophic factor and TrkB modulate visual experience-dependent refinement of neuronal pathways in retina J Neurosci. 27(27): 7256-67.
  • Liu X., Robinson M. L., Schreiber A. M., Wu V., Lavail M. M., Cang J., Copenhagen D. R.. Regulation of neonatal development of retinal ganglion cell dendrites by neurotrophin-3 overexpression J Comp Neurol. 514(5): 449-58.
  • Puyang Z., Chen H., Liu X.. Subtype-dependent Morphological and Functional Degeneration of Retinal Ganglion Cells in Mouse Models of Experimental Glaucoma J Nat Sci. 1(5): e103.
  • Puyang Z., Gong H. Q., He S. G., Troy J. B., Liu X., Liang P. J.. Different functional susceptibilities of mouse retinal ganglion cell subtypes to optic nerve crush injury Exp Eye Res. 162 97-103.
  • Rangarajan K. V., Lawhn-Heath C., Feng L., Kim T. S., Cang J., Liu X.. Detection of visual deficits in aging DBA/2J mice by two behavioral assays Curr Eye Res. 36(5): 481-91.
  • Shi X., Barchini J., Ledesma H. A., Koren D., Jin Y., Liu X., Wei W., Cang J.. Retinal origin of direction selectivity in the superior colliculus Nat Neurosci. 20(4): 550-558.
  • Souma T., Tompson S. W., Thomson B. R., Siggs O. M., Kizhatil K., Yamaguchi S., Feng L., Limviphuvadh V., Whisenhunt K. N., Maurer-Stroh S., Yanovitch T. L., Kalaydjieva L., Azmanov D. N., Finzi S., Mauri L., Javadiyan S., Souzeau E., Zhou T., Hewitt A. W., Kloss B., Burdon K. P., Mackey D. A., Allen K. F., Ruddle J. B., Lim S. H., Rozen S., Tran-Viet K. N., Liu X., John S., Wiggs J. L., Pasutto F., Craig J. E., Jin J., Quaggin S. E., Young T. L.. Angiopoietin receptor TEK mutations underlie primary congenital glaucoma with variable expressivity J Clin Invest. 126(7): 2575-87.
  • Thomson B. R., Heinen S., Jeansson M., Ghosh A. K., Fatima A., Sung H. K., Onay T., Chen H., Yamaguchi S., Economides A. N., Flenniken A., Gale N. W., Hong Y. K., Fawzi A., Liu X., Kume T., Quaggin S. E.. A lymphatic defect causes ocular hypertension and glaucoma in mice J Clin Invest. 124(10): 4320-4.
  • Wang L., Rangarajan K. V., Lawhn-Heath C. A., Sarnaik R., Wang B. S., Liu X., Cang J.. Direction-specific disruption of subcortical visual behavior and receptive fields in mice lacking the beta2 subunit of nicotinic acetylcholine receptor J Neurosci. 29(41): 12909-18.
  • Wang L., Sarnaik R., Rangarajan K., Liu X., Cang J.. Visual receptive field properties of neurons in the superficial superior colliculus of the mouse J Neurosci. 30(49): 16573-84.
  • Yoshida M., Feng L., Grimbert F., Rangarajan K. V., Buggele W., Copenhagen D. R., Cang J., Liu X.. Overexpression of neurotrophin-3 stimulates a second wave of dopaminergic amacrine cell genesis after birth in the mouse retina J Neurosci. 31(35): 12663-73.
  • Zhao X., Chen H., Liu X., Cang J.. Orientation-selective responses in the mouse lateral geniculate nucleus J Neurosci. 33(31): 12751-63.