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., 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



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