Wei Zheng, Ph.D.

Research Interests/ Training Areas

  • Molecular mechanisms, biomarkers and chelation therapy of manganese (Mn)-induced Parkinsonian disorder.
  • Molecular mechanisms by which lead (Pb) exposure alters brain transport and homeostasis of beta-amyloid, which contributes to the etiology of Alzheimer’s disease.
  • Adult neurogenesis in metal-induced neurotoxicities and contributions of brain barrier systems in adult neurogenesis.
  • Transport of substances (metals, polypeptides, and drug molecules) by the blood-brain barrier and blood-CSF barrier.  
  • Integrity of brain barriers in neurodegenerative diseases and obesity-associated neurobehavioral alterations.


Dr. Wei Zheng received his B.S. in Pharmacy and M.S. in Pharmacology from Zhejiang University and his Ph.D. in Toxicology from University of Arizona.  He was an Assistant Professor and later Associate Professor in School of Public Health at Columbia University in New York City (1993-2003). He joined Purdue University in 2003 and became a Full Professor in 2006.  In 2008, Dr. Zheng took the position as the Head of the School of Health Sciences. He is a toxicologist specialized in metal-induced neurodegenerative disorders such as Parkinson’s disease, Alzheimer’s disease and essential tremors. 

For the past 21 years, his research team has been exploring the metal-induced neurotoxicities with a particular focus on the roles of brain barrier systems in regulating metal homeostasis in brain.  His major achievements in metal toxicological research include: (1) his seminal discovery that lead (Pb) accumulation in brain choroid plexus reduces the production of transthyretin (TTR), which transports thyroid hormones and amyloid peptides into brain; (2) his original research that unveils the molecular mechanism by which iron (Fe) and copper (Cu) are transported in and out of brain by brain barrier systems and how exposure to manganese (Mn) alters these processes, leading to Mn-induced parkinsonism; (3) his novel approaches by combining transgenic animal models with synchrotron X-ray fluorescence technique to establish a distinct role of Pb in the formation of amyloid plaques in the pathoetiology of Alzheimer’s disease; (4) his effort in translating laboratory discoveries to human health research and intervention by exploring cohorts of smelters, welders and battery workers for better characterization of metal exposure and neurodegenerative disorders; and (5) his leading role in fostering collaborations among metal toxicologists, medical device engineers, physicists, epidemiologists, and environmental health field workers for large-scale human studies of metal-induced neurodegenerative diseases such as Mn in Parkinson’s disease and Pb in Alzheimer’s disease.  He authored one book, 157 original research manuscripts and 183 conference proceedings and abstracts.  His research has been supported by NIH grants (since 1994), U.S. Department of Defense contracts, and other awards from pharmaceutical companies such as Johnson & Johnson and Eli Lilly.

Recent / Representative Publications

Fu X, Zhang YS, Jiang W, Monnot AD, Bates CA, and Zheng W* (2014). Regulation of copper transport crossing brain barrier systems by Cu-ATPases: Effect of manganese exposure. Toxicol Sci  139:432-451. (PMCID: PMC4064014)

O’Neal SL, Hong L, Fu S, Jiang W, Jones A, Nie L, and Zheng W* (2014). Manganese accumulation in bone following chronic exposure in rats: Steady-state concentration and half-life in bone. Tox Lett  229:93-100.  (PMCID: PMC4126163)

Bates CA and Zheng W* (2014).  Transport of α-synuclein by brain barrier systems: Implications in Parkinson’s disease. Fluids Barriers CNS 11:17 (PMCID: PMC4120720)

Fu X, Zeng AJ, Zheng W, and Du Y* (2014). Up-regulation of zinc transporter-2 in the blood-CSF barrier following lead exposure. Exp Biol Med 239:202-212 (IF: 3.103)  (PMCID: PMC3928640)

O’Neal SL, Lee JW, Zheng W* and Cannon JR* (2014). Subchronic manganese exposure in rats is a neurochemical model of early manganese toxicity. Neurotoxicology 44:303-313.

Gu HY, Zhong ZH, Jiang W, Du E, Dodel R, Farlow MR, Zheng W* and Du Y* (2014). The role of choroid plexus in IVIG-induced beta-amyloid clearance.  Neuroscience  270:168-176.  (PMCID: PMC4035429)

Gu HY, Zhong ZH, Jiang W, Du E, Dodel R, Farlow MR, Zheng W* and Du Y (2014). The role of choroid plexus in IVIG-induced beta-amyloid clearance.  Neuroscience  270:168-176.  IF:3.327. (PMCID: PMC4035429)

Louis ED, Galecki M, Benito-León J, Bermejo-Pareja F, Jiang W, Factor-Litvak P, and Zheng W (2014). Elevated blood harmane (1-Methyl-9H-Pyrido[3,4-B]indole) concentrations in Parkinson’s disease. Neurotoxicology 40:52-56 (PMID: 24300779)

Zheng G, Zhang J, Xu Y, Shen X, Song H, Jing J, Luo W, Zheng W*, and Chen JY (2014). Involvement of CTR1 and ATP7A in lead (Pb)-induced copper (Cu) accumulation in choroidal epithelial cells. Toxicol Lett 225(1):110-118. (PMCID: PMC4127571)

Hong L, Xu C, O'Neal S, Bi HC, Huang M, Zheng W, Zeng S. (2014) Roles of P-glycoprotein and multidrug resistance protein in transporting para-aminosalicylic acid and its N-acetylated metabolite in mice brain. Acta Pharmacol Sin. 35(12):1577-85  doi: 10.1038/aps.2014.103

Liu YZ; Byrne P, Wang HY, Koltick D, Zheng W and Nie L (2014). A compact DD neutron generator-based NAA system to quantify manganese (Mn) in bone in vivo. Physiol Meas 35:1899-1911. IF:1.617. (doi:10.1088/0967-3334/35/9/1899)

Wei Zheng, Ph.D.

Professor of Health Sciences & Toxicology

Faculty Associate, Center on Aging and Life Course

Phone: 765-496-6447
Fax: 765-496-1377
E-mail: wzheng@purdue.edu
Lab Website

Purdue University, School of Health Sciences, 550 Stadium Mall Drive, West Lafayette, IN 47907, (765) 494-1419, Fax: (765) 496-1377

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