In a recent Cell Reports article, Dr. Jiaqing Hao and colleagues report that consumption of a high fat diet rich in fish oil induces hair loss via epidermal fatty acid binding protein in skin macrophages.

Fats are insoluble in aqueous environments. Fatty acid binding proteins (FABPs) are a group of evolutionarily conservative proteins evolved to facilitate FA transport and responses across species. The FABP family consists of at least 9 members, which were named according to their distinct pattern of tissue distribution. Epidermal FABP (E-FABP, also known as FABP5) is mainly expressed in the skin. Previous studies from Dr. Li’s group demonstrated that E-FABP is also expressed in different subsets of immune cells, regulating immune cell lipid metabolism and function. This new study led by Dr. Jiaqing Hao, an Associated Scientist in Dr. Bing Li’s group, further demonstrate that consumption of fish oil HFD induces hair loss via E-FABP-dependent immunoregulatory effects. Following lipid absorption, n-3 FAs were preferably enriched in the skin, where E-FABP expression in CD207+ resident skin macrophages plays an essential role in mediating n-3 FA/ROS/IL-36 signaling, which further promotes infiltration/activation of CD207- myeloid macrophages, therefore leading to TNF-a-mediated immune inhibition on HFSCs. Altogether, these studies not only provide a cellular and molecular mechanism by which consumption of n-3 FAs activates skin macrophages through E-FABP/ROS/IL-36/TNF-a signaling, thus promoting fish oil-induced hair loss, but also have clinical implications for understanding the etiology of dietary fat-associated hair health.

The article can be viewed at: 

Dr. Bing Li was awarded a 5-year NIH/NCI U01 grant, determining the molecular and metabolic mechanisms by which A-FABP links dysregulated lipid metabolism-induced obesity and breast cancer risk.

Congratulations to Yuan Hua! Championship Women Singles of Table Tennis at the 2022 Iowa State Games of America.

Congratulations to Yuan Hua! Championship Women Singles of Table Tennis at the 2022 Iowa State Games of America.

Welcome Jianyu Yu, a talented Ph.D. student joining our group in July, 2022

Research paper of consumption of dietary oils on breast cancer risk by Dr. Bing Li’ group is published in Cancer Research

The most recent American Dietary Guidelines (2020-2025) recommend shifting dietary fats from solid saturated fats to unsaturated oils. Dietary oils contain different compositions of unsaturated fatty acids (UFA). Oleic acid (OA) and linoleic acid (LA) are the most common UFA in dietary oils. How individual UFA in oils regulate immune cell function and cancer risk remains unclear. In this paper, Dr. Li and his colleagues demonstrated that high fat diets (HFD) rich either in OA or LA induced a similar degree of murine obesity, but the LA-rich HFD specifically promoted mammary tumor growth in an E-FABP depend manner (

Dr. Bing Li appointed to the Pathology Endowed Chair for Cancer Immunology Research

Dr. Bing Li recently joined the Department as a tenured Professor. He was appointed to the Pathology Endowed Chair for Cancer Immunology Research by the University of Iowa Provost’s office.

Dr. Bing Li received his Ph.D. at Peking University Health Science Center, and postdoctoral training at University of Louisville School of Medicine. He served as Assistant Professor at the Hormel Institute, University of Minnesota and Associated Professor at the Department of Microbiology and Immunology, University of Louisville before joining the University of Iowa. Dr. Li’s research program is primarily focused on how dietary fats regulate immune cell metabolism and function, thus contributing to obesity-associated chronic inflammation and cancer risk. His laboratory has been funded by multiple R01 grants from the National Cancer Institute and National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases.