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Wei Zhong, Ph.D.

Wei Zhong portrait
Assistant Professor, Gastroenterology, Hepatology & Motility

Professional Background

Dr. Zhong is an Assistant Professor at the University of Kansas Medical Center, where she specializes in alcohol-associated liver disease (ALD) research, particularly focusing on the gut-liver axis.

During her graduate studies, she examined the impact and mechanism of zinc deficiency on alcohol-induced intestinal tight junction disruption. Her post-doctoral work targeted accelerating alcohol metabolism by manipulating mitochondrial and/or peroxisomal functions. Later, she studied intestinal antimicrobial peptides, notably Paneth cell-derived α-defensins, and their role in alcohol-induced gut microbiota dysbiosis and consequent organ damage.

Currently, Dr. Zhong's research focuses on elucidating the mechanisms underlying peroxisomal dysfunction and bile acid disorder resulting from alcohol intoxication. Her overarching objective is to identify potential therapeutic targets for treating ALD.

Education and Training
  • PhD, Biomedicine, China Agricultural University, Beijing, China
  • Other, Pathophysiology, University of Louisville, Louisville, KY
  • Post Doctoral Fellowship, Pathophysiology, University of North Carolina at Greensboro, Kannapolis, NC
Professional Affiliations
  • Research Society on Alcoholism, Member, 2015 - Present
  • American Association for the Study of Liver Disease, Member, 2012 - Present



The role of peroxisome dysfunction and bile acid disorder in alcohol-associated liver disease: Peroxisomes, crucial for cellular metabolic processes including bile acid synthesis, are disrupted in ALD, but the exact molecular mechanisms and metabolic consequences remain unclear. In my lab, we aim to bridge this gap by elucidating the connection between peroxisomal dysfunction, bile acid metabolism disorder, and ALD development. Leveraging unique mouse models with hepatocyte-specific peroxisome deficiency, we seek to underscore the pivotal role of functional peroxisomes in maintaining bile acid homeostasis against alcohol-induced cellular toxicity. This project promises to uncover novel molecular targets for preventing and treating ALD and its complications.

The mechanism of microbial dysbiosis and gut barrier disruption in alcohol-associated liver disease: Alcohol-induced microbial dysbiosis and gut barrier disruption are pivotal events in the pathogenesis of ALD, where the gastrointestinal tract bears the brunt of initial damage. Alcohol compromises intestinal tight junctions, heightening gut permeability to macromolecules, particularly pathogenic bacteria and their molecular patterns, which act as hepatic toxicants. In our research, we focus on the intricate interplay among nutrients, microbiota, and the host in alcohol-induced dysbiosis and barrier disruption. Building upon our prior work emphasizing the role of intestinal innate immunity in maintaining a symbiotic balance, we employ mouse models lacking antimicrobial functions, intestinal organoids, and epithelial cell lines to dissect the complexities of tryptophan metabolism, host immune response, and gut microbiota in ALD.

  • Yue, Ruichao, Wei, Xiaoyuan, Hao, Liuyi, Dong, Haibo, Guo, Wei, Sun, Xinguo, Zhao, Jiangchao, Zhou, Zhanxiang, Zhong, Wei. 2023. IL-22 ameliorates alcohol-induced liver injury in mice through regulating intestinal antimicrobial defense, microbiome symbiosis and gut barrier function. Frontiers in Immunology.
  • Yue, Ruichao, Chen, Guan-yuan, Xie, Guoxiang, Hao, Liuyi, Guo, Wei, Sun, Xinguo, Jia, Wei, Zhang, Qibin, Zhou, Zhanxiang, Zhong, Wei. 2021. Activation of PPARα - catalase pathway reverses alcoholic liver injury via upregulating NAD synthesis and accelerating alcohol clearance. Free Radical Biology and Medicine.
  • Yue, Ruichao, Wei, Xiaoyuan, Zhao, Jiangchao, Zhou, Zhanxiang, Zhong, Wei. 2021. Essential role of IFN-γ in regulating gut antimicrobial peptides and microbiota to protect against alcohol-induced bacterial translocation and hepatic inflammation in mice. Frontiers in Physiology.
  • Zhong, Wei, Wei, Xiaoyuan, Hao, Liuyi, Lin, Tai-Du, Yue, Ruichao, Sun, Xinguo, Guo, Wei, Dong, Haibo, Li, Tianjiao, Ali, Ahmadi., R, Sun, Zhaoli, Zhang, Qibin, Zhao, Jiangchao, Zhou, Zhanxiang. 2020. Paneth cell dysfunction mediates alcoholic steatohepatitis through promoting bacterial translocation in mice: role of zinc deficiency. Hepatology.