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Masahiro Tsuji


Academic Visitor

Masahiro Tsuji MD, PhD is a physician scientist and specializing in pediatric neurology and neuroscience. He has been working for clarifying the mechanisms of and developing novel therapies for brain injuries originating from fetal and neonatal period. He has been engaged in preclinical studies using rodent models of neonatal hypoxic-ischemic encephalopathy and neonatal stroke, with special emphasis on behavioural, anatomical, and imaging evaluations. Collaborating with Senior Researcher, J-Olivier Coq at CNRS/Aix-Marseille University, he developed a rat model of mild intrauterine hypoperfusion. The fetuses exhibit growth restriction and pups are born with low birthweight. Then pups exhibit hyperactivity and disturbed sociability although pups do not exhibit clear morphological brain injury. In human, children born with low birthweight have higher risks for developing neurodevelopmental disorders, including attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorders (ADHD) and autism spectrum disorder (ASD). Hence, this model is useful for preclinical studies of ADHD and ASD associated with prematurity.

He is very much interested in the mechanisms how mild intrauterine hypoperfusion lead to such behavioural alterations, e.g., whether there may be subtle disruptions in the development of cortical layers and/or control of neurotransmitters. These interests made him join to Professor Molnar’s laboratory, Department of Physiology, Anatomy and Genetics, University of Oxford, Oxford, UK as Visiting Academic in 2023.

He has been focusing on developing stem cell therapies for perinatal brain injuries. He has shown that umbilical cord blood-derived CD34+ cells (hematopoietic stem/endothelial progenitor cells) have therapeutic effects for rodent models of neonatal brain injury. Based on these preclinical data, his team has shown the safety and feasibility of cord blood cell therapy for neonates with hypoxic-ischemic encephalopathy in a multi-centre clinical trial. His laboratory has also shown beneficial effects of umbilical cord-derived mesenchymal stem/stromal cells for fetal/neonatal brain injuries. Recently, he broadened this research field into the utilization of nutrition and probiotics for prevention/treatment for neurological problems in infants. He showed that early supplementation of Bifidobacterium modulates hyperactivity during adolescence in the animal model.

He obtained his M.D. at the Tottori University, Tottori, Japan. After completing his paediatric residency, he had clinical training of paediatric neurology and obtained his Ph.D. at Kyoto University, Kyoto, Japan, under the supervision of Associate Professor Haruo Hattori in 2000. He studied the effects of nitric oxide synthase inhibitor in a rodent model of neonatal hypoxia-ischemia. After working as paediatric neurologist for a general hospital, he joined to Professor Michael V. Johnston’s laboratory at Kennedy Krieger Institute, Johns Hopkins University, Baltimore, USA as a postdoctoral research fellow (2002-4). He continued his work on neonatal brain injury using the rodent model and learned several techniques of analysing the brain injury. Then, he went back to Japan and worked as paediatric neurologist. Seeing children with uncurable disorders led him to research for developing novel therapies for the disorders at Department of Regenerative Medicine and Tissue Engineering, National Cerebral and Cardiovascular Center, Suita, Japan (2009-2018). He was appointed to a University Professor position at the Department of Food and Nutrition, Kyoto Women’s University, Kyoto, Japan from 2018.