Lin Xu, Ph.D.
Chairman, Scientific Committee of Kunming institute of Zoology, Chinese Academy of Sciences,
Director, Key Laboratory of Animal Models and Human Disease Mechanisms,
Principle Investigator, Kunming Institute of Zoology, Chinese Academy of Sciences. 

Address:Kunming Institute of Zoology, Chinese Academy of Sciences.
32 Jiao-Chang Dong Road, Kunming 650223,
Yunnan, P.R. China
Tel. 0086-871-5195402
Home page:   
Key Lab:

Research Areas

We are interested in basic and translational research in the fields of neural plasticity and learning & memory using animal models for human diseases (such as anxiety, depression, PTSD, Diabetes). The techniques we routinely used are: behavioral pharmacology, patch-clamp whole-cell recording in vitro, field potentiation recording in anesthetic and freely moving rats, multi-channel single unit recording. We take advantage of the hot biodiversity resources in Yunnan province in the translational research, which includes disease mechanisms, drug screening and pharmacodynamics of leading compounds. By combinations of advantage techniques and hot biodiversity resources of Yunnan Province as well as cooperation with interdisciplinary teams in China and abroad, we are trying to establish international reputation and competition abilities of both basic and translation research in the research fields.


2008-present: Director, Key Laboratory of Animal Models and Human Disease Mechanisms, Chinese Academy of Sciences and Yunnan province. 

2005-present: Chairman, Scientific Committee of Kunming Institute of Zoology, Chinese Academy of Sciences. 

1998-present: Principal Investigator, Kunming Institute of Zoology, Chinese Academy of Sciences. 

1995-1998: Ph.D., Pharmacology and Therapeutics Department, Trinity College Dublin, Ireland. 

1994-1995: Visiting Fellow, Pharmacology Department, School of Pharmacy, London University. 

1990-1994: Research Assistant, Kunming Institute of Zoology, Chinese Academy of Sciences. 

1987-1990: M.S., Kunming Institute of Zoology, Chinese Academy of Sciences.

Honors & Distinctions

1999: China National Funds for Distinguished Young Scientists from NSFC; One Hundred Person Project from CAS 

2004: Excellent Individual for National Basic Research Program of China (973) from MOST 

2008: Tan Jia-zhen Prize for Innovation in Life Science Research



Selected publications (*Corresponding authors)

Lu G, Zhou QX, Kang S, Zhao LC, Chen JD, Sun JF, Cao J, Wang YJ, Chen J, Chen XY, Zhong DF, Chi ZQ, Li QL, Xu L*, and Liu JG* (2010) Chronic morphine treatment impairs hippocampal LTP and spatial memory via accumulation of extracellular adenosine acting on adenosine A1 receptors. J Neurosci 30(14):5058-5070. 

Dai JX, Han HL, Tian M, Cao J, Xiu JB, Song NN, Huang Y, Xu TL, Ding YQ*, and Xu L* (2008) Enhanced contextual fear memory in central serotonin-deficient mice. Proc Natl Acad Sci USA 105:11981-11986. 

Li HB, Mao RR, Zhang JC, Yang Y, Cao J, and Xu L* (2008) Antistress effect of TRPV1 channel on synaptic plasticity and spatial memory. Biol Psychiatry 64:286-292. 

Yang Y, Zheng X, Wang Y, Cao J, Dong Z, Cai J, Sui N*, and Xu L* (2004) Stress enables synaptic depression in CA1 synapses by acute and chronic morphine: possible mechanisms for corticosterone on opiate addiction. J Neurosci 24:2412-2420. 

Rowan MJ*, Anwyl R, and Xu L (1998) Stress and long-term synaptic depression. Mol Psychiatry 3:472-474. 

Xu L, Holscher C, Anwyl R, and Rowan MJ* (1998) Glucocorticoid receptor and protein/RNA synthesis-dependent mechanisms underlie the control of synaptic plasticity by stress. Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A 95:3204-3208. 

Xu L, Anwyl R, and Rowan MJ* (1998) Spatial exploration induces a persistent reversal of long-term potentiation in rat hippocampus. Nature 394:891-894. 

Xu L, Anwyl R, and Rowan MJ* (1997) Behavioural stress facilitates the induction of long-term depression in the hippocampus. Nature 387:497-500. 

Recent Publications (2007-2011)
Tian M, Mao RR, Wang LP, Zhou QX, Cao J, Xu L. Interaction between behavioral despair and addictive behaviors in rats. Physiol Behav 2011;102(1):7-12. 

Cheng YQ, Xu J, Chai P et al. Brain volume alteration and the correlations with the clinical characteristics in drug-naive first-episode MDD patients: a voxel-based morphometry study. Neurosci Lett 2010;480(1):30-34. 

Dong Z, Han H, Cao J, Xu L. Opioid withdrawal for 4 days prevents synaptic depression induced by low dose of morphine or naloxone in rat hippocampal CA1 area in vivo. Hippocampus 2010;20(2):335-343. 

Lu G, Zhou QX, Kang S et al. Chronic morphine treatment impaired hippocampal long-term potentiation and spatial memory via accumulation of extracellular adenosine acting on adenosine A1 receptors. J Neurosci 2010;30(14):5058-5070. 

Wen F, Xu L. Effects of isolation after sexual experience on anxiety-like, depressive-like behaviors and affective states in male rats. Chinese Science Bulletin 2010;55:4136-4142.
Xu J, Cheng Y, Chai P et al. White-matter volume reduction and the protective effect of immunosuppressive therapy in systemic lupus erythematosus patients with normal appearance by conventional magnetic resonance imaging. J Rheumatol 2010;37(5):974-986. 

Yang T, Cheng Y, Li H et al. Abnormal regional homogeneity of drug-naive obsessive-compulsive patients. Neuroreport 2010;21(11):786-790. 

Zhou QX, Mao RR, Duan TT et al. Stress within the postseizure time window inhibits seizure recurrence. Epilepsy Behav 2010;18(3):201-206. 

Zhao L, Zhu Y, Wang D, Chen M, Gao P, Xiao W, Rao G, Wang X, Jin H, Xu L, Sui N, Chen Q. Morphine induces Beclin 1- and ATG5-dependent autophagy in human neuroblastoma SH-SY5Y cells and in the rat hippocampus. Autophagy 2010;6:386-394. 

Bai HY, Cao J, Liu N, Xu L, Luo JH. Sexual behavior modulates contextual fear memory through dopamine D1/D5 receptors. Hippocampus 2009;19(3):289-298. 

Mao RR, Tian M, Yang YX, Zhou QX, Xu L, Cao J. Effects of pentylenetetrazol-induced brief convulsive seizures on spatial memory and fear memory. Epilepsy Behav 2009;15(4):441-444. 

Hao YH, Yan Q, Liu HH, Xu L, Xue ZM, Song XQ, Kaneko Y, Jiang TZ, Liu ZN, Shan BC. Schizophrenia patients and their healthy siblings share disruption of white matter integrity in the left prefrontal cortex and the hippocampus but not the anterior cingulate cortex. Schizophrenia Research 2009;114: 128-135 

Liu HH, Hao YH, Kaneko Y, Ouyang X, Zhang Y, Xu L, Xue ZM, Liu ZN. Frontal and cingulate gray matter volume reduction in heroin dependence: Optimized voxel-based morphometry. Psychiatry and Clinical Neurosciences 2009;63: 563-568 

Wang K, Yu C, Xu L, Qin W, Li K, Jiang T. Offline memory reprocessing: involvement of the brain’s default network in spontaneous thought processes. PLoS One 2009;4: e4867
Dai JX, Han HL, Tian M et al. Enhanced contextual fear memory in central serotonin-deficient mice. Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A 2008;105(33):11981-11986. 

Dong Z, Han H, Cao J, Zhang X, Xu L. Coincident activity of converging pathways enables simultaneous long-term potentiation and long-term depression in hippocampal CA1 network in vivo. PLoS ONE 2008;3(8):e2848. 

Dong Z, Zhong W, Tian M et al. Morphine withdrawal affects both delayed-escape behaviour in Morris water maze and hippocampal NR2A/2B expression ratio. Brain Res 2008;1207:164-173. 

Li HB, Mao RR, Zhang JC, Yang Y, Cao J, Xu L. Antistress effect of TRPV1 channel on synaptic plasticity and spatial memory. Biol Psychiatry 2008;64(4):286-292. 

Liu H, Li L, Hao Y et al. Disrupted White Matter Integrity in Heroin Dependence: A Controlled Study Utilizing Diffusion Tensor Imaging. Am J Drug Alcohol Abuse 2008;1. 

Gao Y, Han H, Xu R, Cao J, Luo J, Xu L. Effects of prolonged exposure to context following contextual fear conditioning on synaptic properties in rat hippocampal slices. Neurosci Res 2008;61(4):385-389. 

Xu L. [Neural plasticity mechanism of depression]. Zhong Nan Da Xue Xue Bao Yi Xue Ban 2008;33(4):326-330. 

Zhang LH, Gong N, Fei D, Xu L, Xu TL. Glycine uptake regulates hippocampal network activity via glycine receptor-mediated tonic inhibition. Neuropsychopharmacology 2008;33(3):701-711. 

Zhang Z, Gong N, Wang W, Xu L, Xu TL. Bell-shaped D-serine actions on hippocampal long-term depression and spatial memory retrieval. Cereb Cortex 2008;18(10):2391-2401. 

Duan B, Wu LJ, Yu YQ et al. Upregulation of acid-sensing ion channel ASIC1a in spinal dorsal horn neurons contributes to inflammatory pain hypersensitivity. J Neurosci 2007;27(41):11139-11148. 

Dong Z, Cao J, Xu L. Opiate withdrawal modifies synaptic plasticity in subicular-nucleus accumbens pathway in vivo. Neuroscience 2007;144(3):845-854. 

Li L, Ma N, Li Z et al. Prefrontal white matter abnormalities in young adult with major depressive disorder: A diffusion tensor imaging study. Brain Res 2007;1168:124-128. 

Ma N, Li L, Shu N et al. White matter abnormalities in first-episode, treatment-naive young adults with major depressive disorder. Am J Psychiatry 2007;164(5):823-826. 

Ma WP, Cao J, Tian M et al. Exposure to chronic constant light impairs spatial memory and influences long-term depression in rats. Neurosci Res 2007;59(2):224-230. 

Yang J, Hou C, Ma N et al. Enriched environment treatment restores impaired hippocampal synaptic plasticity and cognitive deficits induced by prenatal chronic stress. Neurobiol Learn Mem 2007;87(2):257-263.
the application of 5-methyl-1,3-benzenediol or derivatives thereof in the preparation of medicines and functional foods for treatment or prevention of depression, PPNO:PCT/CN2008/071752 .

Magnetic stimulation electrocircuit of central nervous system and its device, application and using method (International application number :PCT/CN2006/001289 ) .

N-Substituted-4-Substituted phenyl-5-Alkyl-5-Substituted benzyl pyrrolidone-2, its intermediate, synthetic method and application(Xiaojing Hao, Xiaosheng Yang, Jun Zhou, Jingxia Cai, Lin Xu, Xintian Hu: Patent Number: ZL 94 1 04879.9).

Research Interests

Representative Research Progress 

1. Memory and synaptic plasticity: We found novel environment exploration learning reversed long-term potentiation(LTP) in the hippocampus in a time-dependent manner (Nature, 1998). Acquisition and retrieval of fear memory induced by light-electrical shock were quantitatively correlated with hippocampal LTP/long-term depression (LTD) (Hippocampus, 2005). Serotonin and dopamine regulated the persistence of fear memory (PNAS 2008; Hippocampus 2009). We found in the first the input timing dependent plasticity(ITDP) (PLoS ONE,2008).

2. Stress and synaptic plasticity: Stress facilitated LTD in the hippocampus (Nature, 1997), and this effect depended on translation and transcription mediated by glucocorticoid receptor (PNAS, 1998). Stress enhanced Juvenile but impaired adult and elder animals′ memory (J Endocinol, 2003). Activation of hippocampal TRPV1 receptor produced antistress effects and protected spatial memory from stress effects, and thus TRPV1 receptor might be a new target to treat stress related diseases, such as anxiety, depression and PTSD (Biol Psychiatry, 2008). 

3. Addiction and synaptic plasticity: Acute morphine injection led to LTP, but morphine combined with stress led to LTD, which might underlie an intensive and no-fading drug seeking behavior (J Neurosci, 2004). Long-term chronic morphine injection impaired the function of adenosine transporter, resulting in the increased adenosine levels in the synaptic cleft, and finally leading to the impairment of LTP and memory (J Neurosci, 2010). Depression and drug addiction may share a common neural pathway (Physiol Behav, 2011). 

4. Set up new animal models: We have established a delayed-escape paradigm of the Morris water maze to study morphine mediated compulsive drug seeking behavior; We used tree shrews, which are phylogenetically close to primates, to have established a one-trial captive model of learning and memory and a social defeat model of depression; We also established new depression models by sleep or light deprivation in mice.


Ottawa university, Canada.
University of Science and Technology of China.
TongJi university, Shanghai, China
Southeast university,China
Kunming Institute of Botany, Chinese Academy of Sciences.
Institute of High Energy Physics, Chinese Academy of Sciences.
Shanghai Institute of Materia Media,Chinese Academy of Sciences. 
The Second Xiangya Hospital of Central South University.



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