Jyoti J. Watters

Jyoti Watters
Professor, Department of Comparative Biosciences
(608) 262-1016


Ph.D. University of Washington, Seattle

Lab Website:


Research Focus:

Signal Transduction and Gene Expression in Microglia

Research Strengths:

Molecular Neuroscience; Neurobiology of Disease

Research Description:

Hyperactivation of microglial cells has been implicated in the progression and neuronal injury sustained as a result of several neurodegenerative and inflammatory diseases.  Microglia, mononuclear phagocytic immune cells residing in the CNS, are among the first cell types to respond to neuronal injury.  Upon their activation, they synthesize and secrete inflammatory mediators that can be neurotoxic when produced in excess.  Therefore, identification of agents that can reduce or prevent their activation is of great clinical importance.  The overall goal of my research program is to investigate the cellular and molecular mechanisms regulating microglial phenotype transition and function in the context of CNS pathology and recovery in chronic neuroinflammatory disorders.  We focus in particular on identifying key signal transduction and transcription factor activation pathways responsible for controlling microglial inflammatory and neurotrophic gene expression.  We also have projects designed to understand microglial regulatory mechanisms in the developing and aging CNS, and how sex influences these processes.  Our recent work is aimed at defining microRNAs and histone modifications that contribute to microglial plasticity. 


Please see PubMed for most recent publications

    •  Huxtable, A.G. Smith, S.M.C., Peterson, T.J., Watters, J.J. and Mitchell, G.S. 2015     Intermittent hypoxia-induced spinal inflammation impairs respiratory motor plasticity by a spinal p38 MAP kinase-dependent mechanism. Journal of Neuroscience, 35(17):6871-6880 (PMCID: PMC4412901). http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/25926462
    • Nikodemova, M., Kimyon, R.S., De, I., Small, A.L., Collier, L.S. and Watters, J.J. 2015 Microglial numbers attain adult levels after undergoing a rapid decrease in cell number in the third postnatal week. Journal of Neuroimmunology, 278:280-288 (PMCID: PMC4297717). http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/25468773
    • Smith, S.M.C., Kimyon, R.S. and Watters, J.J. 2014 Cell-Type Specific Expression of Jumonji Histone Demethylases in the Healthy Rat CNS: Detection By A Novel Flow Cytometry Method. ASN Neuro, 6(3) pii: e00146 (PMCID: PMC4034710). http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/24735454
    • Nikodemova, M., Small, A.L., Smith, S.M., Mitchell, G.S. and Watters. J.J. 2014 Spinal but not cortical microglia acquire an atypical phenotype with high VEGF, galectin-3 and osteopontin, and blunted inflammatory responses in ALS rats. Neurobiology of Disease, 69C:43-53. (PMCID: PMC24269728). http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/24269728
    • Smith, S.M.C., Mitchell, G.S., Friedle, S.A. and Watters, J.J. 2013 Chronic intermittent hypoxia exerts CNS region-specific effects on rat microglial inflammatory and TLR4 gene expression. PLoS One, 8(12):e81584 (PMCID: PMC3852519). http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/24324707
    • Smith, S.M.C., Mitchell, G.S., Friedle, S.A., Sibigtroth, C.M., Vinit, S. and Watters, J.J. 2013 Hypoxia attenuates purinergic P2X receptor-induced inflammatory gene expression in brainstem microglia. Hypoxia, 1:1-11. (PMCID: PMC3873144) http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/24377098
    • Crain, J.M., Nikodemova, M. and Watters, J.J. 2013 Microglia Express Distinct M1 and M2 Phenotypic Markers in the Postnatal and Adult Central Nervous System in Male and Female Mice. Journal of Neuroscience Research, 91(4):1143-1151. (PMCID: PMC3715560) http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/23686747
    • Nikodemova, M. and Watters, J.J. 2012 Efficient isolation of live microglia with preserved phenotypes from adult mouse brain*. Journal of Neuroinflammation, 9:147. (PMCID: PMC3418565) http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/22742584
    • Nikodemova, M and Watters, J.J. 2011 Outbred ICR/CD1 mice display more severe neuroinflammation mediated by microglial TLR4/CD14 activation than inbred C57Bl/6 mice. Neuroscience, 190:67-74 (PMCID: PMC3156380) http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/21683771
    • Friedle, S.A., Nikodemova, M., Wright, M.L. and Watters, J.J.  2011 The P2X7-Egr Pathway Regulates Nucleotide-Dependent Inflammatory Gene Expression in Microglia.  Glia, 59(1):1-13. (PMCID: PMC2981661) http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/20878769