Jyoti Watters, PhD

Position title: Professor of Pharmacology and Chair, Department of Comparative Biosciences

Email: jjwatters@wisc.edu

Phone: 608-262-1016

2015 Linden Drive
Madison, WI 53706

Lab Website
Lab Website
Jyoti Watters

Research Interests

The overall goal of my research program is to investigate how early life events reprogram resident brain macrophages (microglia), and consequently impact brain function and neural disease progression later in life. In a rodent model of maternal sleep apnea during late pregnancy (which is increasingly prevalent in pregnant women) we find that offspring have severe cognitive and social deficits reminiscent of autism spectrum disorder, as well as impairments in motor neuroplasticity that is necessary for proper respiratory system function. Importantly, these deficits only occur in male offspring; the females are protected. We are currently investigating how microglia contribute to these neural impairments, and how the reprogrammed microglial transcriptome may be controlled by epigenetic gene regulatory processes (e.g. histone demethylation and microRNAs) that are initiated in utero. Endocrine and developmental mechanisms underlying these sexually dimorphic offspring neural consequences are also under investigation. We use molecular, cellular, pharmacologic and whole animal behavioral approaches to investigate these questions. This research has implications for understanding individual susceptibility to disease later in life, and identifies biochemical and molecular pathways that may be therapeutic targets.

Selected Publications

  1. Kiernan, E.A., Wang, T., Vanderplow, A.M., Cherukuri, S., Cahill, M.E., Watters, J.J.  2019 Neonatal Intermittent Hypoxia Induces Lasting Sex-Specific Augmentation of Rat Microglial Cytokine Expression. Front. Immunol. 10:1479. (PMCID: PMC6615134).
  2. Baker, T.L., Johnson, S.M., Watters, J.J. 2018 Intermittent hypoxia : Pathologic killer or healing tonic? Respiratory Physiology and Neurobiology 256:1-3. (PMCID: PMC29933051)
  3. Dougherty, B.J., Kopp, E.S. and Watters, J.J. 2017 Non-genomic actions of 17-β estradiol restore respiratory neuroplasticity in young ovariectomized female rats. J. Neuroscience, 37(28):6648-6660. (PMCID: PMC5508255).
  4. Nikodemova, M., Small, A.L., Kimyon, R.S. and Watters, J.J. 2016 Age-dependent differences in microglial responses to systemic inflammation are evident as early as middle age. Physiological Genomics, 48(5):336-44 (PMCID: PMC4855213).
  5. 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
  6. Song R, Mishra JS, Dangudubiyyam SV, Antony KM, Baker TL, Watters JJ, Kumar S. Gestational Intermittent Hypoxia Induces Sex-Specific Impairment in Endothelial Mechanisms and Sex Steroid Hormone Levels in Male Rat Offspring. Reprod Sci. 2021 Sep 22
  7. Kiernan EA, Ewald AC, Ouellette JN, Wang T, Agbeh A, Knutson AO, Roopra AS, Watters JJ. Prior Hypoxia Exposure Enhances Murine Microglial Inflammatory Gene Expression in vitro Without Concomitant H3K4me3 Enrichment. Front Cell Neurosci. 2020 Oct 7;14:535549.