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Yang Mao-Draayer, M.D., Ph.D.
Associate Professor of Neurology
Multiple Sclerosis Center/
Holtom-Garrett Neuroimmunology Program

Most of our work focuses on the human disease multiple sclerosis (MS, the second most common cause of neurological disability in young adults) and its animal model, experimental autoimmune encephalomyelitis (EAE). Our laboratory studies interactions between the immune and nervous systems in the context of autoimmune demyelinating disease.  We pose questions about the influence of the CNS microenvironment on the development of local inflammatory responses and, conversely, about the influence of immune mediators on neural stem/progenitor cell (NPC) survival and regeneration/ repair.

One part of our laboratory is devoted to human immunological studies, involving the analysis of peripheral blood mononuclear cell, T and B cells that are collected from patients with MS or other neurological diseases and healthy controls. Currently we are investigating the relationship between the expression of neurotrophins, MS disease activity and various disease modifying treatment effects.

We are investigating the mechanisms by which leukocyte subsets and cytokines interact with NPCs in the repair process; specifically, we are studying the effects of various T cells (Th1, Th17, Th2, Treg) on CNS progenitor cells and axonal regrowth pathways that could affect attempts to repair damaged CNS tissues.

We are also investigating the culture conditions that promote optimal survival and differentiation of the oligodendrocyte lineage from human and mouse NPCs. We will also be testing potential therapeutic agents in NPC system and subsequently in EAE.  Our long-term goal is to apply novel neuroprotective therapeutic agents in human clinical trials for MS patients.

Representative Recent Publications

Mao-Draayer Y, Braff SP, Pendlebury W, and Panitch H. Treatment of Steroid-Unresponsive Tumefactive Demyelinating Disease with Plasma Exchange.   Neurology 2002; 59: 1074-1076.

Mao-Draayer Y, Panitch H. Treatment of Steroid-Unresponsive Tumefactive Demyelinating Disease with Plasma Exchange. Reply from the Authors.  Neurology 2003; 61: 1022.

Mao-Draayer Y, Panitch H. Alexia without Agraphia In Multiple Sclerosis: Case Report with MRI Localization. Multiple Sclerosis 2004; 10: 705-707.
M. Yushak, Eckenstein F, Panitch H, Mao-Draayer Y. The Effects of Cannabinoids On Murine Neural Stem Cell Survival and Differentiation. Multiple Sclerosis 2006; 12 (Suppl 1):S14.

Mao-Draayer Y, Panitch H. Glatiramer Acetate (Copaxone). In Cook SD, ed. Handbook of Multiple Sclerosis, Fourth Edition, New York: Marcel Dekker 2006.

Scharf E., Victor M., Braas K., Shutz K., Mao-Draayer Y. Pituitary Adenylate Cyclase-Activating Polypeptide (PACAP) and Vasoactive Intestinal Peptide (VIP) Regulate Murine Neural Progenitor Cell Survival, Proliferation and Differentiation. J. Mol. Neurosci. 2008; 36 (1):79- 88.

Hirsch M, Knight J, Tobita M, Soltys J, Panitch H, Mao-Draayer Y. Effects of interferon-beta on mouse neural progenitor cell survival and differentiation” Biochem and Biophy Res Com 2009; 388 (2):181-186.

Knight J, Scharf E, Mao-Draayer Y. Fas activation increases neural progenitor cell survival. J Neurosci Res October, 2009; 88(4):746-757.

Soltys J, Yushak M, Mao-Draayer Y. Regulation of neural progenitor cell fate by anandamide.  Biochem and Biophy Res Com 2010; 400(1):21-26.

Knight J,  Hackett C, Breton J, Mao-Draayer Y. Cross-Talk between CD4+ T-cells and Neural Stem/Progenitor Cells. J of Neurol Sci. 2011; 306 (1): 121-128.

Knight J, Hackett C, Soltys J, Mao-Draayer Y. Fas receptor modulates lineage commitment and stemness of neural progenitor cells; Neuroscience and Medicine, 2011; 2 (2): 132-141.

Arscott T, Soltys J,  Knight J, Mao-Draayer Y. Interferon -1b directly modulates human neural stem/precursor cell fate. Brain Research 2011; 1412: 1-8 (Epub in July).

Breton J, Mao-Draayer Y. Impact of cytokines on neural stem/progenitor cells. J Neurol Neurophysiol 2011 Nov.18.

Soltys J, Perrone C, Knight J, Mao-Draayer Y. PDGF-AA and BDNF promote neural stem cell differentiation. J Neurol and Neurophysiol 2011 S4. doi:10.4172/2155-9562.S4-002.

Mao-Draayer Y. Acute Transverse Myelitis. The Five-Minute Pediatric Consult, 6th edition, edited by M. William Schwartz. Lippincott Williams & Wilkins 2012.

Mao-Draayer Y, Cash T. Neurosarcoidosis in a patient treated with tumor necrosis factor alpha inhibitors. J Neurology 2013; 260(2):651-653. PMID: 23306600

Soltys J, Knight J, Scharf E, Pitt D, Mao-Draayer Y. IFN-beta Alters Neurotrophic Factor Expression in T Cells Isolated from Multiple SclerosisPatients—Implication of Novel Neurotensin/NTSR1 Pathway in Neuroprotection. Am J Transl Res 2014;6(3):312-319. PMCID: PMC4058312.

Hackett C, Knight J, Mao-Draayer Y. Transplantation of Fas-deficient or wild-type neural stem/progenitor cells (NPCs) is equally efficient in treating experimental autoimmune encephalomyelitis (EAE). Am J Transl Res 2014;6(2): 119-128. PMCID: PMC3902222.


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