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Xiaochun Xu, M.D., Ph.D.

Present Title & Affiliation

Primary Appointment

Associate Professor, Department of Clinical Cancer Prevention - Research, Cancer Prevention and Population Sciences, The University of Texas M. D. Anderson Cancer Center, Houston, TX

Dual/Joint/Adjunct Appointment

Associate Professor, The Graduate School for Bioscience, The University of Texas at Houston, Houston, TX
Professor, Department of Pathology, Medical School, Anhui Medical University, Hefei, China

Bio Statement

Esophageal cancer is one of the deadliest and least studied cancers in the United States. It typically has reached a late stage by the time of diagnosis, and thus has poor response to therapy and frequently has metastasized. Our research objective is to develop strategies for the early detection and prevention of esophageal cancer through understanding the molecular mechanisms of esophageal carcinogenesis. To this end, our previous studies have associated some common risk factors with altered gene expression in esophageal cancer. We found that benzo[a]pyrene diol epoxide (BPDE, a carcinogen present in tobacco and environmental pollution) and bile acid (a tumor promoter in gastrointestinal cancer) suppressed expression of retinoic acid receptor-beta2 (RAR-beta2) and retinoid receptor-induced gene-1, while upregulating the expression of epidermal growth factor receptor, activating factor-1, phosphorylated extracellular signal-regulated protein kinases 1/2, and cyclooxygenase-2 in esophageal cancer cells. We also discovered that BPDE suppressed the expression of RAR-beta2 through the methylation of the RAR-beta2 gene promoter by DNA methyltransferase 3a (DNMT3a), whereas bile acid had its effect through the activation of farnesoid X receptor (FXR), the nuclear bile acid receptor.

Currently, our research is primarily focused on: (a) Combating the effects of esophageal cancer risk factors to effectively prevent or delay esophageal carcinogenesis, (b) Detecting the expression of genes activated by these risk factors for potential use as biomarkers for early detection and prognosis, and (c) Understanding the underlying molecular mechanisms by which risk factors for esophageal cancer cause gene alterations.

Research Interests

  • Esophageal cancer
  • Chemoprevention
  • Biomarker
  • Cancer biology
  • Risk factors

Office Address

The University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center
1155 Pressler St.
PO Box 301439
Unit Number: 1360
Houston, TX 77230-1439
Phone: 713-745-2940
Fax: 713-563-5747

Education & Training

Degree-Granting Education

1991 School of Medicine, George-August-University of Göttingen, Göttingen, Göttingen, Germany, PHD, Pathology
1985 School of Basic Medical Science, Anhui Medical University, Hefei, China, MS, Pathology
1982 School of Medicine, Anhui Medical University, Hefei, China, MD, Medicine

Postgraduate Training

1/1992-8/1995 Tumor Biology, The University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center, Houston, TX


Institutional Committee Activities

Member, Study Section Review Committee for Clinical Translational and Population-based Research Projects of IRG Program, 2007-2010
Member, Scientific Publications Advisory Board, 2006-present

Selected Publications

Peer-Reviewed Original Research Articles

1. Wu ZS, Wu Q, Wang CQ, Wang XN, Huang J, Zhao JJ, Mao SS, Zhang GH, Xu XC, Zhang N. miR-340 inhibition of breast cancer cell migration and invasion through targeting of oncoprotein c-Met. Cancer 117(13):2842-52, 7/2011. e-Pub 1/2011. PMID: 21692045.
2. Hu Y, Correa AM, Hoque A, Guan B, Ye F, Huang J, Swisher SG, Wu TT, Ajani JA, Xu XC. Prognostic significance of differentially expressed miRNAs in esophageal cancer. Int J Cancer 128(1):132-43, 1/2011. e-Pub 3/2010. PMCID: PMC2937084.
3. Zhang G, Brewster A, Guan B, Fan Z, Brown PH, Xu XC. Tumor-suppressor activity of RRIG1 in breast cancer. BMC Cancer 11:32, 2011. e-Pub 1/2011. PMCID: PMC3037341.
4. Wu ZS, Wu Q, Wang CQ, Wang XN, Wang Y, Zhao JJ, Mao SS, Zhang GH, Zhang N, Xu XC. MiR-339-5p inhibits breast cancer cell migration and invasion in vitro and may be a potential biomarker for breast cancer prognosis. BMC Cancer 10:542, 2010. e-Pub 10/2010. PMCID: PMC2958952.
5. Song S, Guan B, Men T, Hoque A, Lotan R, Xu XC. Antitumor effect of retinoic acid receptor-beta2 associated with suppression of cyclooxygenase-2. Cancer Prev Res (Phila) 2(3):274-80, 3/2009. e-Pub 3/2009. PMCID: PMCPMC3415716.
6. Wu ZS, Wu Q, Yang JH, Wang HQ, Ding XD, Yang F, Xu, XC. Prognostic significance of MMP-9 and TIMP-1 serum and tissue expression in breast cancer. Int J Cancer 122(9):2050-6, 5/2008. PMID: 18172859.
7. Hoque A, Chen H, Xu XC. Statin induction of apoptosis and cell growth arrest in prostate cancer cells. Cancer Epidemiol Biomarkers Prevention 17(1):88-94, 1/2008. PMID: 18199714.
8. Huang J, Liang ZD, Wu TT, Hoque A, Chen H, Jiang Y, Zhang H, Xu XC. Tumor-suppressive effect of retinoid receptor-induced gene-1 (RRIG1) in esophageal cancer. Cancer Res 67(4):1589-93, 2/2007. PMID: 17308098.
9. Jiang Y, Liang ZD, Wu TT, Cao L, Zhang H, Xu XC. Ataxia-telangiectasia mutated expression is associated with tobacco smoke exposure in esophageal cancer tissues and benzo[a]pyrene diol epoxide in cell lines. Int J Cancer 120(1):91-5, 1/2007. PMID: 17019709.

Book Chapters

1. Xu X-C. Risk factors and gene expression in esophageal cancer. In: Methods Mol Biol. 471. Ed(s) Verma M. Humana Press, 335-60, 2009. ISBN: 19109788.

Grant & Contract Support

Title: Chemoprevention of Esophageal Cancer
Funding Source: NIH/NCI
Role: Principal Investigator
Duration: 2008 - 2011

Last updated: 7/24/2014