Professor LU Liwei

Prof LU Liwei

Professor (Immunology)

  • MMed (Norman Bethune), PhD (McGill)
Research Area
Lymphocyte development and its dysregulation in immune disease
Research Description
My research has been focusing on lymphocyte development and its dysregulation in autoimmune diseases. Studies in normal and mutant mice have aimed to examine lymphocyte apoptosis and its role in maintaining quality control and homeostasis in the immune system. We are also interested in studying the dysregulated cytokine production and lymphocyte function during the pathogenesis of autoimmune disorders. Using an animal model for human rheumatoid arthritis, we are developing novel strategies for targeting TNF family cytokines in treating autoimmune arthritis. Further knowledge of the regulatory mechanisms underlying lymphocyte development and function should shed light on the prophylaxis and therapy of immune diseases.
group photo

Research Interest
  • Identification of genes involved in regulating lymphocyte development and function.
  • Regulation of lymphocyte apoptosis in the quality control and homeostatic regulation.
  • Gene silencing of novel TNF family cytokines for treating autoimmune disease.

Major Research Grants

RGC - General Research Fund (GRF) (Formerly Known as Competitive Earmarked Research Grant (CERG))

  • Role of leptin in regulating B cell maturation and function
  • Plasma cell development and its regulation in autoimmunity
  • Natural killer cells and the pathogenesis of autoimmunity
  • B cell apoptosis and its regulation in autoimmunity

Innovation and Technology Support Programme

  • Innovative development of a gene-targeted therapy for rheumatoid arthritis

National Science Foundation of China and Research Grants Council of Hong Kong Joint Research Scheme

  • Regulation of de ndritic cell function and its therapeutic application inautoimmune diabetes
  • Functional interaction between dendritic cells and B cells in autoimmunity

National Key Basic Research Program of China

  • Role of antigen-presenting cells in immune response and tolerance
  • Immunopathogenesis and therapeutic intervention of rheumatoid arthritis


Professor LU graduated in Medicine from Jiangsu University and received his PhD from McGill University. After completing his postdoctoral research at the University of Toronto, he joined the University of Hong Kong in 2000 and is currently Professor of Immunology in the Department of Pathology.

The study of immune dysregulations in autoimmune diseases is the main focus of Professor Lu’s research. During the last ten years, his laboratory has been exploring novel strategies for the treatment of rheumatoid arthritis, a crippling disease with high social relevance in Hong Kong. His team was among the first to successfully treat autoimmune arthritis by silencing B-cell activating factor in a preclinical study, which has significant therapeutic implications for the effective treatment of rheumatoid arthritis. Professor Lu is an internationally recognised expert in the field of autoimmunity and has served as the Chairman of Hong Kong Society for Immunology. He has published over 100 peer-reviewed papers in leading immunology and rheumatology journals. His research achievements have been recognised with numerous awards including the Croucher Senior Research Fellowship in 2012 and the HKU Outstanding Researcher Award in 2013.

Awards and Honors
  • World’s top 1% of scientists (ESI, 2019)
  • Councilor, Federation of ImmunologicalSocieties of Asia-Oceania (FIMSA) (2015- )
  • Beijing Science and Technology Award (2015)
  • Outstanding Researcher Award , University of Hong Kong (2013)
  • Croucher Senior Research Fellowship Award (2012)
  • Chairman, Hong Kong Society for Immunology (2007- )
  • Faculty Teaching Medal, Faculty of Medicine, HKU (2008)
  • Young Investigator Award, Hong Kong Society for Immunology (2003)
  • David Rae Memorial Award, Leukemia Research Fund of Canada (2000)

  • Associate Editor, International Journal of Rheumatic Diseases
  • Associate Editor-in-Chief, Cellular and Molecular Immunology
  • Associate Editor, Cytokine
  • Editor, Frontiers in Immunology

Selected Publications

Click here for detail publication list on ORCID

Researcher Profile on HKU Scholars Hub

  • Wang X, Lin X, Zheng Z, Lu B, Wang J, Tan AH, Zhao M, Loh JT, Ng SW, Chen Q, Xiao F, Huang E, Ko KH, Huang Z, Li J, Kok KH, Lu G, Liu X, Lam KP, Liu W, Zhang Y, Yuen KY, Mak TW, Lu L. Host-derived lipids orchestrate pulmonary γδ T cell response to provide early protection against influenza virus infection. Nature Communications 2021;12(1):1914. doi: 10.1038/s41467-021-22242-9
  • Deng J, Chen Q, Chen Z, Liang K, Gao X, Wang X, Makota FV, Ong HS, Wan Y, Luo K, Gong D, Yu X, Camuglia S, Zeng Q, Zhou T, Xue F, He J, Wei Y, Xiao F, Ma J, Hill DL, Pierson W, Nguyen THO, Zhou H, Wang Y, Shen W, Sun L, Li Z, Xia Q, Qian K, Ye L, Rockman S, Linterman MA, Kedzierska K, Shen N, Lu L*, Yu D*. The metabolic hormone leptin promotes the function of TFH cells and supports vaccine responses. Nature Communications  2021;12(1):3073. doi: 10.1038/s41467-021-23220-x
  • Rui K, Hong Y, Zhu Q, Shi X, Xiao F, Fu H, Yin Q, Xing Y, Wu X, Kong X, Xu H, Tian J, Wang S, Lu L. Olfactory ecto-mesenchymal stem cell-derived exosomes ameliorate murine Sjögren's syndrome by modulating the function of myeloid-derived suppressor cells. Cell Mol Immunol. 2021;18(2):440-451
  • Xiao F, Du W, Zhu X, Tang Y, Liu L, Huang E, Deng C, Luo C, Han M, Chen P, Ding L, Hong X, Wu L, Jiang Q, Zou H, Liu D, Lu L. IL-17 drives salivary gland dysfunction via inhibiting TRPC1-mediated calcium movement in Sjögren's syndrome. Clin Transl Immunology. 2021;10(4):e1277. doi: 10.1002/cti2.1277.
  • Xiao F, Han M, Rui K, Ai X, Tian J, Zhang W, Zhao F, Zhao Y, Jiang Q, Lu L. New insights into follicular helper T cell response and regulation in autoimmune pathogenesis. Cell Mol Immunol. 2021;18(6):1610-1612.
  • Wang J, Xu Y, Chen Z, Liang J, Lin Z, Liang H, Xu Y, Wu Q, Guo X, Nie J, Lu B, Huang B, Xian H, Wang X, Wu Q, Zeng J, Chai C, Zhang M, Lin Y, Zhang L, Zhao S, Tong Y, Zeng L, Gu X, Chen ZG, Yi S, Zhang T, Delfouneso D, Zhang Y, Nutt SL, Lew AM, Lu L, Bai F, Xia H, Wen Z, Zhang Y. Liver Immune Profiling Reveals Pathogenesis and Therapeutics for Biliary Atresia. Cell. 2020;183(7):1867-1883.
  • Ma K, Li J, Wang X, Lin X, Du W, Yang X, Mou F, Fang Y, Zhao Y, Hong X, Chan KW, Zhang X, Liu D, Sun L, Lu L, TLR4+CXCR4+ plasma cells drive nephritis development in systemic lupus erythematosus. Ann Rheum Dis. 201877(10): 1498-1506.
  • Guggino GLin XRizzo AXiao FSaieva LRaimondo SDi LDCandore GRuscitti PCipriani PGiacomelli RDieli FAlessandro RTriolo G,Lu LCiccia F, IL-25 axis is involved in the pathogenesis of human primary and experimentalSjögren's syndrome, Arthritis Rheumatol,20182018, 70(8): 1265-1275.
  • Fu WLiu XLin XFeng HSun LLi SChen HTang HLu LJin WDong C,Deficiency in T follicular regulatory cells promotes autoimmunity, J Exp Med, 2018; 215(3):815-825.
  • Wang, X., Ma, K., Chen, M., Ko, K.H., Zheng, B.J., and Lu, L. IL-17A Promotes Pulmonary B-1a Cell Differentiation via Induction of Blimp-1 Expression during Influenza Virus Infection. 2016, PLoS Pathogens12, e1005367.
  • Tian, J., Rui, K., Tang, X., Ma, J., Wang, Y., Tian, X., Zhang, Y., Xu, H., Lu, L., and Wang, S. MicroRNA-9 Regulates the Differentiation and Function of Myeloid-Derived Suppressor Cells via Targeting Runx1. 2015, J Immunol195, 1301-1311.
  • Lin X, Rui K, Deng J, Tian J, Wang X, Chen M, Ko K-H, Jiao Z, Wang S, CS Lau, Cao X, L Lu*. Th17 cells play a critical role in the development of experimental Sjögren’s syndrome in mice. Annals of the Rheumatic Diseases, 2014; doi:10.1136/annrheumdis-2013-204584.
  • Wang T, Sun X, Wang Z, Zhao J, Zhang J, Zhu H, Li C, Gao N, Jia Y, Huang FP, Li N, Lu L*, Li Z*. Regulatory T cells in rheumatoid arthritis showed increased plasticity toward Th17 but retained suppressive function in peripheral blood. Annals of the Rheumatic Diseases, 2014; doi:10.1136/annrheumdis-2013-204228
  • Deng, J., Y. Liu, M. Yang, S. Wang, M. Zhang, X. Wang, K. H. Ko, Z. Hua, L. Sun, X. Cao, and L Lu* Leptin exacerbates collagen-induced arthritis via enhancing Th17 cell response. Arthritis and Rheumatism. 2012; 64:3564-73.
  • Yang M, Deng J, Y Liu, KH Ko, X Wang, Z Jiao, S Wang, Z Hua, L Sun, G Srivastava, CS Lau, X Cao, L Lu*. IL-10-producing regulatory B10 cells ameliorate collagen-induced arthritis via suppressing Th17 cell generation. American Journal of Pathology 2012; 180:2375-85.
  • Wang S, Y Shi, M Yang, J Ma, J Tian, J Chen, Y Liu, C Mao, Z Jiao, KH Ko, H Xu and L Lu*. GITRL exacerbates collagen-induced arthritis via enhancing the expansion of Th17 cells. American Journal of Pathology 2011; 180:1059-67.
  • Lam Q, S Wang, O Ko, PW Kincade, L Lu*. Leptin signaling maintains B cell homeostasis via induction of Bcl-2 and Cyclin D1. PNAS USA 2010; 107:13812-7.
  • Yang M, L Sun, S Wang, H. Xu, B-J Zheng, X Cao, and L. Lu*. Cutting Edge: Novel function of BAFF in the induction of IL-10-producing regulatory B cells. The Journal of Immunology. 2010; 184:3321-3325.
  • Lam Q, O Ko, B-J Zheng and L Lu*. Local BAFF gene silencing suppresses Th17 cell generation and ameliorates autoimmune arthritis. PNAS USA 2008; 105:14993-14998.
  • Lo C, Q Lam, L Sun, S Wang, K-H Ko, H Xu, C Wu, B-J Zheng and L Lu*. NK cell degeneration exacerbates experimental arthritis via enhanced IL-17 production. Arthritis and Rheumatism 2008; 58:2700-2711.

Other Publications

Click here for detail publication list on PubMed

  • Yang M, Deng J, Y Liu, KH Ko, X Wang, Z Jiao, S Wang, Z Hua, L Sun, G Srivastava, CS Lau, X Cao, Lu L. IL-10-producing regulatory B10 cells ameliorate collagen-induced arthritis via suppressing Th17 cell generation. American Journal of Pathology, 2012; 180:2375-85.
  • Qian L, C Qian, Y Cheng, Y Bai, Y Bao, L Lu and X Cao. Regulatory dendritic cells program B cells to differentiate into CD19hiFIIbhi regulatory B cells though IFN-b and CD40L. Blood, 2012; 120:581-91.
  • Sun J, Li R, Guo J, Jia Y, Sun X, Liu Y, Li Y, Huang FP, Lu L, Li Z. A superior molecularly altered influenza virus haemagglutinin (HA) peptide HA308-317 inhibits CIA by inducing CD4+ regulatory T cell expansion. Arthritis & Rheumatism, 2012; 64:2158-68.
  • Wang S, Y Shi, M Yang, J Ma, J Tian, J Chen, Y Liu, C Mao, Z Jiao, KH Ko, H Xu and L Lu. GITRL exacerbates collagen-induced arthritis via enhancing the expansion of Th17 cells. American Journal of Pathology, 2011; 180:1059-67.
  • Liang J, F Gu, H Wang, B Hua, Y Hou, S Shi, L Lu, L Sun. Umbilical Cord-Derived Mesenchymal Stem Cells Transplantation Treats Diffuse Alveolar Hemorrhage in a SLE Patient. Nature Reviews Rheumatology, 2010; 6:486-9
  • Iikuni N, Q Lam, L Lu, G Matarese, A La Cava , Leptin and Inflammation. Current Immunology Review, 2008; 4:70-79
  • Lam Q, B-J Zheng, D-Y Jin, X Cao and Lu L. Leptin induces CD40 expression through the activation of AKT in murine dendritic cells. J Biol Chem 2007, 282:27587-27597.
  • Martin DA, Lu L, Cascalho M and Wu GE. 2007. Maintenance of surrogate light chain expression induces developmental delay in early B cell compartment. J  Immunol 2007 , 179: 4996-5005.
  • Lam QL, Liu S, Cao X, Lu L. Involvement of leptin signaling in the survival and maturation of bone marrow-derived dendritic cells. Eur J Immunol 2006, 36(12):3118-3130.
  • Lam QL, Lo CK, Zheng BJ, Ko KH, Osmond DG, Wu GE, Rottapel R, Lu L. Impaired V(D)J recombination and increased apoptosis among B cell precursors in the bone marrow of c-Abl-deficient mice. Int Immunol 2007, 10(3):267-276.
  • Ko KH, Lam Q., Zhang M., Cheung CT, Wong C, Ko KH, Tsang SL, Chan LC, Sham MH, Lu L. Hoxb3 deficiency impairs B lymphopoiesis in mouse bone marrow. Exp Hematol 2007, 35:465-475.
  • Zhang M, Ko KH, QL Lam, Lo CK, Srivastava G, Zheng B, Lau YL, Lu L. Expression and function of TNF family member B cell-activating factor in the development of autoimmune arthritis. Int Immunol 2005, 17:1081-1092.
  • Woo M, Hakem R, Furlonger C, Hakem A, Duncan GS, Sasaki T, Bouchard D, Lu L, Wu GE, Paige CJ, Mak TW. Caspase3 regulates cell cycle in B cells: a consequence of substrate specificity. Nat Immunol 2003, 4:1016-1022.
  • Shen L, Liang ACT, Lu L, Au WY, Wong KY, Tin PC, Chan KW, Ko KH, Chen YW, Beh SL, Shimizu N, Tsuchiyama J, Tang JCO, Kwong YL, Liang RHS, Srivastava G. 2003. Aberrant BCL10 nuclear expression in nasal NK/T-cell lymphoma. Blood 2003, 102:1553-1554.
  • Zhang Y, Lu L, Furlonger C, Wu GE, Paige CJ. Hemokinin is a hematopoietic-specific tachykinin that regulates B lymphopoiesis. Nat Immunol 2000, 1:392-397.
  • Lu L, Osmond DG. Apoptosis and its modulation during B lymphopoiesis in mouse bone marrow. Immunol Rev 2000, 175:158-174.