Dr Cortina Chen

University position

Research Associate


Department of Clinical Biochemistry


Institute of Metabolic Science

Research Theme

Cellular and Molecular Neuroscience


My research has focused on stress as a mechanism for increasing nitric oxide production which has been implicated in the aetiology of stress-related and other neuropathological conditions. I then joined the Neuroinflammation Laboratory at The University of Queensland (Australia) to studied the underlying neuroinflammatory pathogenesis of dipeptide repeat proteins in C9orf72-linked MND. By utilising several inflammatory-related transgenic mouse lines lacking one of the innate immune C3a/C5a/C5L2 receptors of the complement cascade, I have focused on characterising the involvement of these inflammatory components in mediating central stress responsiveness.

I am currently within the WT-MRC Institute of Metabolic Science to study the cellular and molecular mechanisms underlying diseases of the brain such as obesity and neurodegeneration using pluripotent stem cell-derived cellular co-culture models.

Research Focus


redox biology



energy homeostasis

Clinical conditions

Alzheimer's disease



Behavioural analysis

Cell culture

Enzyme assays


No collaborators listed

Associated News Items

Key publications

Spiers, J.G., Chen, H.-J.C., Bourgognon, J.M., Barry, T.L., Steinert, J.R. (2022), “Redox stress and metal dys-homeostasis appear as hallmarks of early prion disease pathogenesis in mice” Free Radic Biol Med 192: 182-190

Spiers, J.G., Chen, H.-J.C., Bourgognon, J.M., Steinert, J.R. (2019), “Dysregulation of stress systems and nitric oxide signaling underlies neuronal dysfunction in Alzheimer’s disease” Free Radic Biol Med 2(134): 468-483



Spiers, JG, Tan, LS, Anderson, ST, Hill, AF, Lavidis, NA, Chen, HJC (2022), “Hepatic homeostasis of metal ions following acute repeated stress exposure in rats” Antioxidants 11, 85


Spiers, JG, Steiger N, Khadka, A, Juliani, J, Hill, AF, Lavidis, NA, Anderson, ST, Chen, HJC (2021), “Repeated acute stress modulates hepatic inflammation and markers of macrophage polarisation in the rat” Biochimie 180, 30-42


Chen, H.-J.C., Yip, T., Lee, J.K., Juliani, J, Sernia, C., Hill, A.F., Lavidis, N.A., Spiers, J.G. (2020), “Restraint stress alters expression of glucocorticoid bioavailability mediators, suppresses Nrf2, and promotes oxidative stress in liver tissue” Antioxidants 9(9), doi: 10.3390/antiox9090853


Chen, H.-J.C., Lee, J.K., Yip, T, Sernia, C., Lavidis, N.A., Spiers, J.G. (2019), “Sub-acute restraint stress progressively increases oxidative/nitrosative stress and inflammatory markers while transiently upregulating antioxidant gene expression in the rat hippocampus” Free Radic Biol Med 130: 446-457

Spiers, J.G., Chen, H.-J.C. (2019), “Chronic sleep disruption potentiates locus coeruleus tauopathy in a mouse model of Alzheimer’s disease” Journal of Neuroscience 39(25): 4844-4846


Chen, H.-J.C., Spiers, J.G., Sernia, C., Lavidis, N.A. (2018), “Inhibition of fatty acid amide hydrolase by PF-3845 alleviates nitrergic and proinflammatory response in the rat hippocampus following acute stress” Int J Neuropsychopharmacol 21(8):786-795


Colthorpe, K., Abraha, H.M., Zimbardi, K., Ainscough, L., Spiers, J.G., Chen, H.-J.C., Lavidis, N.A. (2017), “Assessing critical evidence evaluation skills of undergraduate science students in inquiry-based laboratory classes” Adv Physiol Edu 41(1): 154-162

Spiers, J.G., Chen, H.-J.C., Steyn, F.J., Lavidis, N.A., Woodruff, T.M., Lee, J.D. (2017), “Non-invasive assessment of altered activity following restraint in mice using an automated physiological monitoring system” Stress 20(1): 59-67


Chen, H.-J.C., Spiers, J.G., Sernia, C., Lavidis, N.A. (2016), “. Acute restraint stress induces specific changes in nitric oxide production and inflammatory markers in the rat hippocampus and striatum” Free Radic Biol Med 90: 219-229

Spiers, J.G., Chen, H.-J.C., Cuffe, J.S.M., Sernia, C., Lavidis, N.A. (2016), “Acute restraint stress induces rapid changes in central redox status and protective antioxidant genes in rats” Psychoneuroendocrinology 67: 104-112


Chen, H.-J.C., Spiers, J.G., Sernia, C., Lavidis, N.A. (2015), “Response of the nitrergic system to activation of the neuroendocrine stress axis” Front Neurosci doi: 10.3389/fnins.2015.00003

Spiers, J.G., Chen, H.-J.C., Sernia, C., Lavidis, N.A. (2015), “Activation of the hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal stress axis induces cellular oxidative stress” Front Neurosci doi: 10.3389/fnins.2014.00456


Chen, H.-J.C., Spiers, J.G., Sernia, C., Anderson, S.T., Lavidis, N.A. (2014), “Reactive nitrogen species contribute to the rapid onset of redox changes induced by acute immobilization stress in rats” Stress 17(6): 520-527

Spiers, J.G., Chen, H.-J.C., Lavidis, N.A (2014), “Stress alleviating plant-derived ‘green odors’: behavioral, neurochemical and neuroendocrine perspectives in laboratory animals” Phytochemistry Reviews 14(5): 713-725

Spiers, J.G., Chen, H.-J.C., Sernia, C., Lavidis, N.A. (2014), “A combination of plant-derived odors reduces corticosterone and oxidative indicators of stress” Chem Senses 39(7): 563-569


Spiers, J.G., Chen, H.J., Bradley, A.J., Anderson, S.T., Sernia, C., Lavidis, N.A. (2013), “Acute restraint stress induces rapid and prolonged changes in erythrocyte and hippocampal redox status” Psychoneuroendocrinology 38: 2511-2519