Yi Zhang, MD, PhD

Clinical Investigator,
Mass General Center for Translational Pain Research

Assistant in Anesthesia,
Mass General Department of Anesthesia, Critical Care and Pain Medicine 

Instructor in Anesthesia,
Harvard Medical School

Mass General TelePain Program

Research Areas

  • Neuro-immune interactions

Description of Research

Dr. Shen's research focus has been centered around the bidirectional interactions between the immune system and the nervous system. Many neurological disorders including pain involve dysregulated immune activation. How the immune system participates in these conditions, particularly chronic pain, has not been thoroughly examined. Conversely, how chronic pain and other neurological disorders alter the immune function is still largely unknown. We have examined gut microbiota, a diverse consortium of microorganisms residing in the gastrointestinal tract of hosts, in the pathogenesis of neuropathic pain, using chemotherapy-induced neuropathic pain as an animal model. We found that gut microbiota plays a previously unrecognized role in influencing pain induced by chemotherapy agent - oxaliplatin. We employ a wide variety of research platforms including immunological tools (flow cytometry, bone marrow chimera, cell sorting) and behavioral studies (mechanical and thermal withdrawal thresholds, cognitive function tests). In addition, we collaborate with experts in Boston, New York, and New Jersey to take advantage of state-of-the-art metagenomics and metabolomics tools.

Selected Publications

1) Shen S, Lim G, You Z, Ding W, Huang P, Ran C, Caravan P, Doheny J, Hu K, Kim H, Tate S, McCabe M, Huang B, Xie Z, Chen L, Mao J  Gut microbiota is critical for the induction of chemotherapy-induced pain, 2017 July. Nature Neuroscience.

2) Shen S, Junghee J. Shin, Klemen Strle, Gail McHugh, Xin Li, Lisa J. Glickstein, Elise E. Drouin, Allen C. Steere. T Regulatory Cell Numbers and Function in Patients with Antibiotic-Refractory or Antibiotic-Responsive Lyme Arthritis Arthritis and Rheumatism. Arthritis Rheum. 2010;62(7)2127-2137

3) Leung M, Shen S*, Lafaille J. TCR-dependent differentiation of thymic Foxp3+ cells is limited to small clonal sizes. Journal of Experimental Medicine. 2009;206(10):2121-30  *co-first author and co-corresponding author

4) Lafaille MA, Kutchukhidze N, Shen S, Ding Y, Yee H, Lafaille J. Adaptive Foxp3+ regulatory T cell-dependent and -independent control of allergic inflammation. Immunity. 2008; 29(1) 114-126

5) Ding Y, Shen S, Lino A, Lafaille M, Lafaille J. Beta-catenin stabilization extends regulatory T cell survival and induces anergy in nonregulatory T cells. Nature Medicine. 2008; (14) 162 - 169

6) Huang B, Zhao J, Zhang L, Shen S, Li D, Shen GX, Zhang GM & Feng ZH. miR-142-3p restricts cAMP production in CD4+CD25- T cells and CD4+CD25+ TREG cells by targeting AC9 mRNA. EMBO Reports. (2008) 10, 180 – 185

7) Huang B, Zhao J, Shen S, Li H, Mayer L, Unkeless J, Li D, Yuan Y, Zhang GM, Xiong H. Listeria monocytogenes  Promotes Tumor Growth via Tumor Cell Toll-Like Receptor 2 Signaling. Cancer Research. 67, 4346-4352, May 1, 2007   

8) Tadokoro CE, Shakhar G, Shen S, Ding Y, Lino AC, Maraver A, Lafaille J, Dustin ML.Regulatory T cells Inhibit Stable Contacts Between CD4+ T Cells and Dendritic Cells In Vivo. Journal of Experimental Medicine. 2006, 203(3)505-511

9) Shen S, Ding Y, Tadokoro C, Camps M, Lino A, , Lafaille J. Role of Regulatory T cell in control of homeostatic proliferation. Journal of Clinical Investigation. 2005;115: 3517-3526


Shiqian Shen, sshen2@mgh.harvard.edu, 617-724 7395 (lab)

* Willing to participate as mentor.



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