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Zhigang Liu

College of Food Science and Engineering, Northwest A&F University

Summary of my work

Dietary patterns, as well as food components, might have significant impacts on cognitive and mental functions. Dietary restrictions, including calorie restriction, intermittent fasting, and some specific nutrients restrictions, have been reported to have beneficial effects on improving aging-related neurodegenerative diseases. Functional food components such as dietary fiber, polyphenols, sterols, and carotenoids are also found to possess regulating effects on the central nervous system function. However, the underlying mechanisms of how nutrients and dietary patterns altering physiological and pathological processes in human are systemic, different organs and systems including digestive, endocrine, nervous, and circulation systems. The interaction between the gut microbiota and the host will also be involved in these nutritional interventions. My work interests focus on how these nutritional interventions impact the central nervous system disorders and the roles of the gut-liver-brain axis played.

While at Cornell, my objective is to determine the effects of intermittent fasting (IF) on aging-related cognitive declines. It has been revealed that IF significantly attenuated the cognitive decline in type 2 diabetes model mice by reshaping the gut microbiome and microbial metabolites production. Moreover, we also investigated the possible protective effects of IF on Alzheimer's disease (AD) model mice. Intriguingly, alternate-day fasting and time-restricted feeding improved the cognitive function and memory in the transgenic AD mice by altering the gut microbiota composition and microbial serotonin catabolites. The research I have done at Cornell inspires us to uncover the beneficial effects of IF on metabolic syndrome and neurodegenerative diseases and the possible gut-brain axis underlying mechanism.

Impacts in China

AD, as a neurodegenerative disease, seriously threatens about 6% of people 65 years and older. Around 10 million people in China are suffering from AD, and the total number of patients is expected to reach 20 million by 2030. Besides, the prevalence of diabetes, a high risk of AD, is over 11% among the adults in China. These health problems in China lead to requirements for both medical and non-medical therapies. Nutritional intervention, including balancing diet and dietary supplements, has been recommended to lower the risk of these chronic diseases. Our research on the beneficial effects of dietary restriction and phytochemical supplements on cognitive declines could provide new clues for future food & nutrition research and industry.

Publications (representative articles, corresponding author only):

  1. Xiaoning Liu; Xiang Li; Bing Xia; Xin Jin; Qianhui Zou; Zhenhua Zeng; Weiyang Zhao; Shikai Yan; Ling Li; Shufen Yuan; Shancen Zhao; Xiaoshuang Dai; Fei Yin; Enrique Cadenas; Rui Hai Liu; Beita Zhao; Min Hou*; Zhigang Liu*; Xuebo Liu*. High-fiber diet mitigates maternal obesity-induced cognitive and social dysfunction in the offspring via gut-brain axis. Cell Metabolism 2021; DOI:
  2. Zhigang Liu*#; Xiaoshuang Dai#; Hongbo Zhang; Renjie Shi; Yan Hui; Xin Jin; Wentong Zhang;Luanfeng Wang;Qianxu Wang; Danna Wang; Jia Wang; Xintong Tan; Bo Ren; Xiaoning Liu; Tong Zhao; Jiamin Wang; Junru Pan; Tian Yuan; Chuanqi Chu; Lei Lan; Fei Yin; Enrique Cadenas; Lin Shi*; Shancen Zhao*; Xuebo Liu*. Gut microbiota mediates intermittent-fasting alleviation of diabetes-induced cognitive impairment. Nature Communications 2020;11(1):855.
  3. Xin Zhang; Qianhui Zou; Beita Zhao; Jingwen Zhang; Weiyang Zhao; Yitong Li; Ruihai Liu; Xuebo Liu; Zhigang Liu*. Effects of alternate-day fasting, time-restricted feeding and intermittent energy restriction on DSS-induced colitis and behavioral disorders. Redox Biology 2020;32:101535.
  4. Zhigang Liu#; Ling Li#; Shaobo Ma; Jin Ye; Hongbo Zhang; Yitong Li; Ali Tahir Sair; Junru Pan; Xiaoning Liu; Xiang Li; Shikai Yan; Xuebo Liu*. High-Dietary Fiber Intake Alleviates Antenatal Obesity-Induced Postpartum Depression: Roles of Gut Microbiota and Microbial Metabolite Short-chain Fatty Acid Involved. Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry 2020, 68, 47, 13697–13710.
  5. Hongbo Zhang; Wentong Zhang; Duo Yun; Ling Li; Weiyang Zhao; Yitong Li; Xuebo Liu*; Zhigang Liu*. Alternate-day fasting alleviates diabetes-induced glycolipid metabolism disorders: Roles of FGF21 and bile acids. Journal of Nutritional Biochemistry 2020,
  6. Qianhui Zou; Xin Zhang; Xiaoshuang Liu; Yitong Li; Qiaoli Tan; Qin Dan; Tian Yuan; Xuebo Liu; Ruihai Liu; Zhigang Liu*. Ficus carica polysaccharide attenuates DSS-induced ulcerative colitis in C57BL/6 mice Food & function 2020, 11(7):6666-6679.
  7. Luanfeng Wang; Bo Ren; Qian Zhang; Chuanqi Chu; Zhenting Zhao; Jianbin Wu; Weiyang Zhao; Zhigang Liu*, Xuebo Liu*. Methionine Restriction Alleviates High-Fat Diet-induced Obesity: Involvement of Diurnal Metabolism of Lipids and Bile Acids Biochimica et Biophysica Acta (BBA)-Molecular Basis of Disease 2020
  8. Luanfeng Wang; Bo Ren; Yan Hui; Chuanqi Chu; Zhenting Zhao; Yuyu Zhang; Beita Zhao; Renjie Shi; Junli Ren; Xiaoshuang Dai; Zhigang Liu*; Xuebo Liu*. Methionine Restriction Regulates Cognitive Function in High-fat Diet-fed Mice: Roles of Diurnal Rhythms of SCFAs Producing‐ and Inflammation‐ related Microbes Molecular Nutrition & Food Research
  9. Shikai Yan; Renjie Shi; Ling Li; Shaobo Ma; Hongbo Zhang; Jin Ye; Jiamin Wang; Junru Pan; Qianxu Wang; Xiang Jin; Xuebo Liu; Zhigang Liu*. Mannan Oligosaccharide Suppresses Lipid Accumulation and Appetite in Western-Diet-Induced Obese Mice Via Reshaping Gut Microbiome and Enhancing Short-Chain Fatty Acids Production.  Molecular Nutrition & Food Research 2019;63(23): e1900521.
  10. Xintong Tan; Ling Li; Jia Wang; Beita Zhao; Junru Pan; Leran Wang; Xiao Liu; Xuebo Liu; Zhigang Liu*. Resveratrol Prevents Acrylamide-Induced Mitochondrial Dysfunction and Inflammatory Responses via Targeting Circadian Regulator Bmal1 and Cry1 in Hepatocytes.  Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry 2019;67(31):8510-8519.
  11. Jia Wang; TonghuiGeng; Qianhui Zou; Ningru Yang; Weiyang Zhao; Yitong Li; Xintong Tan; Tian Yuan; Xuebo Liu, and Zhigang Liu*. Lycopene prevents lipid accumulation in hepatocytes by stimulating PPARα and improving mitochondrial function. Journal of Functional Foods 2020; 67:103857.
  12. Bo Ren; Tian Yuan; Xinglin Zhang; Luanfeng Wang; Junru Pan; Yan Liu; Beita Zhao; Weiyang Zhao; Zhigang Liu*; Xuebo Liu*. Protective Effects of Sesamol on Systemic Inflammation and Cognitive Impairment in Aging Mice. Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry 2020; 68(10):3099‐3111.
  13. Aiziguli Mulati; Shaobo Ma; Hongbo Zhang; Bo Ren; Beita Zhao; Luanfeng Wang; Xiaoning Liu; Tong Zhao; Svetlana Kamanova; Ali Tahir Sair; Zhigang Liu*; Xuebo Liu*. Sea-Buckthorn Flavonoids Alleviate High-Fat and High-Fructose Diet-Induced Cognitive Impairment by Inhibiting Insulin Resistance and Neuroinflammation. Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry 2020;10.
  14. Cover Article: Qianxu Wang; Mengzhen Jia; Yihang Zhao; Yan Hui; Junru Pan; Hongfei Yu; Shikai Yan; Xiaoshuang Dai; Xuebo Liu; Zhigang Liu*. Supplementation of Sesamin Alleviates Stress-Induced Behavioral and Psychological Disorders via Reshaping the Gut Microbiota Structure. Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry 2019; 67(45):12441-12451.
  15. Yihang Zhao; Qianxu Wang; Mengzhen Jia; Shangchen Fu; Junru Pan; Chuanqi Chu; Xiaoning Liu; Xuebo Liu; Zhigang Liu*. (+)-Sesamin attenuates chronic unpredictable mild stress-induced depressive-like behaviors and memory deficits via suppression of neuroinflammation. Journal of Nutritional Biochemistry 2019; 64:61-71.
  16. Tian Yuan; Chuanqi Chu; Rubing Shi; Tianlin Cui; Xinglin Zhang; Yihang Zhao; Xu Shi; Yan Hui; Junru Pan; Rui Qian; Xiaoshuang Dai; Zhigang Liu*; Liu, Xuebo*. ApoE-Dependent Protective Effects of Sesamol on High-Fat Diet-Induced Behavioral Disorders: Regulation of the Microbiome-Gut-Brain Axis. Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry 2019; 67(22):6190‐6201.
  17. Guoyuan Qi; Yashi Mi; Rong Fan; Zhigang Liu*; Xuebo Liu*. Nobiletin Protects against Systemic Inflammation-Stimulated Memory Impairment via MAPK and NF-κB Signaling Pathways. Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry 2019; 67(18):5122‐5134.
  18. Beita Zhao; Hua Liu; Jiamin Wang; Pujie Liu; Xintong Tan; Bo Ren; Zhigang Liu*; Xuebo Liu*. Lycopene Supplementation Attenuates Oxidative Stress, Neuroinflammation, and Cognitive Impairment in Aged CD-1 Mice. Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry 2018; 66(12):3127‐3136.
  19. Rui Guo; Beita Zhao; Yijie Wang; Dandan Wu; Yutang Wang; Yafan Yu; Yuchen Yan; Wentong Zhang; Zhigang Liu*; Xuebo Liu*. Cichoric Acid Prevents Free-Fatty-Acid-Induced Lipid Metabolism Disorders via Regulating Bmal1 in HepG2 Cells. Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry 2018; 66(37):9667‐9678.
  20. Jia Wang; Zhuo Wang; Bing Li; Yu Qiang; Tian Yuan; Xintong Tan; Zihan Wang; Zhigang Liu*; Xuebo Liu*. Lycopene attenuates western-diet induced cognitive deficits via improving glycolipid metabolism dysfunction and inflammatory responses in gut-liver-brain axis. International Journal of Obesity 2018; 43(9):1735-1746.
  21. Jia Wang; Lixia Li; Zhuo Wang; Yifan Cui; Xintong Tan; Tian Yuan; Qian Liu; Zhigang Liu*; Xuebo Liu*. Supplementation of lycopene attenuates lipopolysaccharide-induced amyloidogenesis and cognitive impairments via mediating neuroinflammation and oxidative stress. Journal of Nutritional Biochemistry 2018; 56:16‐25.
  22. Qian Liu; Yaya Hu; Youfang Cao; Ge Song; Zhigang Liu*; Xuebo Liu*. Chicoric Acid Ameliorates Lipopolysaccharide-Induced Oxidative Stress via Promoting the Keap1/Nrf2 Transcriptional Signaling Pathway in BV-2 Microglial Cells and Mouse Brain. Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry 2017; 65(2):338‐347.
  23. Qian Liu; Yuwei Chen; Chun Shen; Yating Xiao; Yutang Wang; Zhigang Liu*; Xuebo Liu*. Chicoric acid supplementation prevents systemic inflammation-induced memory impairment and amyloidogenesis via inhibition of NF-κB. FASEB Journal 2017; 31(4):1494‐1507.

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