Zhenqiang Yao, B.Med., Ph.D.

Zhenqiang Yao, B.Med., Ph.D.

Contact Information

University of Rochester Medical Center
School of Medicine and Dentistry
601 Elmwood Ave, Box 626
Rochester, NY 14642

Office: (585) 273-4129
Fax: (585) 756-4468

Research Bio

Dr. Yao's research focuses on the mechanisms whereby cytokines regulate osteoclast and osteoblast differentiation and function through TRAF3-NF-kappaB signaling in vitro and in animal models of rheumatoid arthritis (RA), osteoporosis and bone metastatic cancers.
1. RA: Macrophages act as the master orchestrator of the joint damage in RA since 1) macrophages are the major producers of pro-inflammatory cytokines that mediate the local and systemic inflammation; 2) Macrophages induce angiogenesis to form inflamed pannus that invade articular cartilage and bone; and 3) Macrophages differentiate into osteoclasts to erode cartilage and bone of the joints.

TNF strongly stimulates the differentiation of inflammatory macrophages with enhanced osteoclast forming potential and increased production of inflammatory factors through NF-kappaB RelB. Thus, depletion of TNF-induced inflammatory macrophages targeting RelB could be a novel strategy for RA therapy.
2. Osteoporosis is initiated by the increased bone resorption due to the excessive activity of osteoclasts associated with the un-matched bone formation. Anti-resorptive and anabolic drugs are available for the treatment of osteoporosis. The commonly used anti-resorptive drugs can result in bone necrosis, limiting their use. Teriparatide is the only FDA approved agent that stimulates new bone formation however its use is limited to 2 years due to the potential to induce osteosarcoma and it is suggested to be contraindicated in patients with bone metastatic cancers. Combined therapy with current anti-resorptive and anabolic drug does not offer advantages over the use of the single agent alone. We are developing new agents with dual anti-resorptive and anabolic effect targeting TRAF3-non-canonical NF-?B signaling proteins for the therapy of osteoporosis.
3. Bone is one of the most common sites of cancer metastasis, particular, in breast cancer and prostate cancer. The development and progression of bone metastatic cancers depend on cancer-bone cell (osteoclast and osteoblast) interactions. Cancer cells produce factors, such as PTHrP, IL-6 and IL-8, to enhance osteoclast formation and bone destruction by promoting RANKL production by osteoblastic cells. Factors released during osteolysis from bone matrix, such as TGFbeta1, IGF and FGF, stimulates tumor growth. Some of these released factors, such as TGFbeta1, also inhibit bone formation. Our goal is to develop an "All-in-One" agent that simultaneously induces cancer cell death, inhibit osteoclast and stimulate osteoblast differentiation to prevent breast cancer bone metastasis.

Awards & Honors (National)

Young Investigator Award | American Society for Bone and Mineral Research 2007
Young Investigator Award | International Society of Bone Morphology 2006

Awards & Honors (Local)

Science and Technology Progress Prize | Yunnan Provincial Government, China 2004
Science and Technology Progress Prize | Yunnan Provincial Government, China 1993
Excellent Youth Paper Award | Chinese Journal of Reparative and Reconstructive Surgery

Recent Journal Articles

Showing the 5 most recent journal articles. 27 available »

2016 Mar
Krieger NS, Yao Z, Kyker-Snowman K, Kim MH, Boyce BF, Bushinsky DA. "Increased bone density in mice lacking the proton receptor OGR1." Kidney international. 2016 Mar; 89(3):565-73. Epub 2016 Jan 06.
2015 Mar 27
Boyce BF, Xiu Y, Li J, Xing L, Yao Z. "NF-?B-Mediated Regulation of Osteoclastogenesis." Endocrinology and metabolism. 2015 Mar 27; 30(1):35-44.
2015 Mar 15
Bhardwaj R, Yester JW, Singh SK, Biswas DD, Surace MJ, Waters MR, Hauser KF, Yao Z, Boyce BF, Kordula T. "RelB/p50 complexes regulate cytokine-induced YKL-40 expression." The Journal of immunology : official journal of the American Association of Immunologists. 2015 Mar 15; 194(6):2862-70. Epub 2015 Feb 13.
Zhao Z, Hou X, Yin X, Li Y, Duan R, Boyce BF, Yao Z. "TNF Induction of NF-?B RelB Enhances RANKL-Induced Osteoclastogenesis by Promoting Inflammatory Macrophage Differentiation but also Limits It through Suppression of NFATc1 Expression." PloS one. 2015 10(8):e0135728. Epub 2015 Aug 19.
2014 Jul
Zhang H, Hilton MJ, Anolik JH, Welle SL, Zhao C, Yao Z, Li X, Wang Z, Boyce BF, Xing L. "NOTCH inhibits osteoblast formation in inflammatory arthritis via noncanonical NF-?B." The Journal of clinical investigation. 2014 Jul; 124(7):3200-14. Epub 2014 Jun 02.

Current Appointments

Assistant Professor - Department of Pathology and Laboratory Medicine (SMD) - Primary


PhD | Biomedical Science | University of Westminster2016
Master | Orthopedic Surgery | Kunming Medical College1993
B.Med. | Medicine | Luoyang Medical College1986

Post-Doctoral Training & Residency

Postdoctoral Research Associate, Department of Pathology, University of Rochester Medical Center 2007
Researcher, Laboratore de Biologie et Biochimie du Tissue Osseux, Institut National de la Sante et de la Recherche Medicale (INSERM), Faculty de Medecine, Saint-Etienne, France 2003
Resident/General Surgery, Department of Surgery, Kaifeng First Hospital, Henan, China 1990