Tiangang Li, PhD

Assistant Professor
Ph.D., Kent State University, 2006

Research Interests

About a third of adults and increasing number of children in developed countries are affected by non-alcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD). NAFLD is closely associated with over-nutrition, central obesity and insulin resistance, which directly contributes to hepatic triglyceride accumulation, diabetic dyslipidemia and increased risk of cardiovascular diseases. 

Sortilin 1 is a multi-ligand trans-membrane receptor localized in trans-Golgi network and early endosome and has been shown to assist in sorting various functionally-unrelated target proteins in the secretory or endosomal pathways. Numerous recent genome-wide association studies (GWAS) identified that Sort1 showed the strongest association with serum cholesterol, serum triglyceride and cardiovascular disease risk in humans, supporting that Sort1 is a novel regulator of lipid metabolism and its function is closely linked to human diseases. Therefore the overall goal of my research is to obtain new insights on the effects and mechanisms of Sort1 regulation of liver metabolism and its role in the pathogenesis of metabolic disorders. 

My current study is concerned with Sort1 regulation of triglyceride and cholesterol metabolism in the liver and circulation. Our results showed that liver Sort1 is consistently and markedly lower in various mouse models of hepatic steatosis and diabetes, while increasing Sort1 expression specifically in the liver simultaneously lowered serum triglyceride and cholesterol. As such, one area of my research will use in vivo mouse models with adenovirus-mediated liver-specific Sort1 gain- and loss-of-function and tissue-specific Sort1 transgenic mice to define the effects and mechanisms of liver Sort1 in regulating hepatic and peripheral lipid metabolism, secretion and uptake. The mechanism of Sort1 regulation of lipid metabolism at the cellular levels will be investigated by using molecular, physiological and imaging approaches in primary hepatocyte systems. Another focus of my research is on understanding how cellular signaling pathways (insulin, inflammation, bile acids) and nuclear receptors regulate Sort1 at transcription and posttranslational levels. These Sort1 regulatory mechanisms could underlie the physiological function of liver Sort1, the molecular basis for impaired hepatic Sort1 function in diseased states, and the potential modulation of Sort1 function by therapeutic approaches.

Selected Publications

Jibiao Li, David Matye and Tiangang Li. Insulin resistance induces posttranslational hepatic Sortilin 1 degradation in mice. J Biol Chem. (2015) May 21; 290(18):11526-36 PMID: 25805502

Jibiao Li, Lipeng Bi, Michelle Hulky and Tiangang Li, Fish Oil and Fenofibrate Prevented Phosphorylation-dependent Hepatic Sortilin 1 Degradation in Western Diet-fed Mice. J Biol Chem. (2014) Aug 8;289(32):22437-49. PMID:24986865

Lipeng Bi, John YL. Chiang, Wen-Xing Ding, Winston Dunn, Benjamin Roberts and Tiangang Li, Saturated fatty acids activate ERK signaling to down-regulate hepatic sortilin 1 in obese and diabetic mice Journal of Lipid Research Oct; 54(10):2754-62. (2013) PMID: 23904453

Shuangwei Li, Diane D.F. Hsu, Bing Li, Xiaolin Luo, Nazilla Alderson, Liping Qiao, Lina Ma, Helen H. Zhu, Zhao He, Kelly Suino-Powell, Kaihong Ji, Jiefu Li, Jianhua Shao, H. Eric Xu, Tiangang Li and Gen-Sheng Feng. Cytoplasmic Tyrosine Phosphatase Shp2 Coordinates Hepatic Regulation of Bile Acid and FGF15/19 Signaling to Repress Bile Acid Synthesis. Cell Metabolism (2014) Aug 5;20(2):320-32. PMID:24981838

Tiangang Li, John YL chiang. Bile acid signaling in metabolic diseases and drug therapies Pharmacological Reviews (2014) Oct;66(4):948-83. PMID:25073467

Tiangang Li, Jessica M. Francl, Shannon Boehme, Adrian Ochoa, Youcai Zhang, Curtis D. Klaassen, Sandra K. Erickson, and John Y. L. Chiang. Glucose and Insulin Induction of Bile Acid Synthesis: Mechanisms and Implication in Diabetes and Obesity. J. Biol. Chem, 13;287(3):1861-73. (2012) PMID:22144677

Tiangang Li, Michelle Matozel, Shannon Boehme, Bo Kong, Lisa-Mari Nilsson, Grace Guo, Ewa Ellis, and John Y. L. Chiang. Cholesterol 7α-hydroxylase promotes hepatic cholesterol and bile acid synthesis and secretion and maintains cholesterol homeostasis. Hepatology, Mar;53(3):996-1006 (2011) PMID: 21319191

Tiangang Li, Erika Owsley, Michelle Matozel, Peter Hsu, and John Y.L. Chiang. Transgenic expression of CYP7A1 in the liver prevents high fat diet-induced obesity and insulin resistance in mice. Hepatology, Aug;52(2):678-90 (2010) PMID: 20623580

Last modified: Aug 31, 2015

Tiangang Li, Ph.D.


Tiangang Li, PhD
Assistant Professor

4073 HLSIC; MS-1018
3901 Rainbow Blvd.
Kansas City, Kansas 66160

P: (913) 588-9974
F: (913) 588-7501