Zhenhua Liu


B.S., Hunan Agricultural University, Hunan, P.R.C.; M.S., China Agricultural University, Beijing, P.R.C.; M.S., Auburn University; Ph.D., Auburn University; Postdoctoral, Tufts-New England Medical Center and Jean Mayer USDA Human Nutrition Research Center on Aging at Tufts University

Area(s) of Specialization: 

Nutritional Epigenetics, Obesity and Inflammation, Cancer Prevention

Research Description: 

Diet and lifestyle are modifiable factors which play a prominent role in public health. My laboratory investigates how those factors and their metabolically-related gene variants interact to mediate the development of chronic diseases. Particularly, my research concentrates on the nutritional modulation of the Wnt-signaling pathway as it tightly relates to many chronic diseases. Currently, my laboratory focuses on 1) nutritional epigenetics and 2) obesity and inflammation in terms of the regulation of Wnt pathway and the prevention of cancer. We utilize cell culture, animal models and human biospecimens, biochemical and molecular techniques, as well as nutritional informatics and functional genomics approaches to understand the etiology of human chronic diseases. We explore the health benefits of nutrients and natural medicinal components with epigenetic and/or anti-inflammatory properties. The ultimate goal of my laboratory is to integrate our biological findings with dietary and lifestyle strategies to diminish the burden of chronic diseases in our society.

Key Publications: 

Liu W, Crott JW, Lyu L, Pfalzer AC, Li J, Choi SW, Yang Y, Mason JB, Liu Z. 2016. Diet- and Genetically-induced Obesity Produces Alterations in the Microbiome, Inflammation and Wnt Pathway in the Intestine of Apc+/1638N Mice: Comparisons and Contrasts. Journal of Cancer. 7(13): 1780-1790.

Bird, J. K., Ronnenberg, A.G., Choi, S. W., Du, F., Mason, J. B., Liu Z. 2015. Obesity is associated with an increased red blood cell folate despite lower dietary intakes and serum concentrations. Journal of Nutrition. 145:79-86.

Liu, Z., Brooks, R. S., Ciappio, E. D., Bennett, G., Crott, J. W., Mason, J. B. 2012. TNF-α induced alterations in the Wnt signaling cascade: a potential mechanism for obesity-associated colorectal tumorigenesis. Journal of Nutritional Biochemistry. 23: 1207-13.

Flood, A., Mason, J. B., Liu, Z., Cash, B. D., Schatzkin, A., Schoenfeld, P. S., Cross, A. J. 2011. Concentration of folate in colorectal tissue biopsies predicts prevalence of adenomatous polyps. Gut, 60:66-72.

Liu, Z., Ciappio, E. D., Crott, J. W., Brook, R. S., Mason, J. B. 2011. Mild inadequacy in multiple one-carbon vitamins elevates Wnt-signaling and promotes intestinal tumorigenesis in the BAT-LacZ×Apc1638N mouse model. FASEB Journal. 25:3136-3145.