Tran Lab

Department of Physiology and Cell Biology

Phone: (775) 682-9831
Manville Health Science Building Room 7
1664 N. Virginia Street
Mail Stop 0352
Reno, NV 89557

Cam TramThe brain requires a tremendous amount of energy to fuel its normal moment-to-moment computation without having its own energy reserves. Thus, it needs a continuous blood supply that can be dynamically regulated to meet the ever-changing metabolic demands. Insufficient supply of nutrients will lead to cell death and consequent sensory, motor, and cognitive deficits as seen in conditions like stroke and dementia. The cellular communication between different members of the neurovascular unit plays a critical role in regulating blood flow control and consequently the functionality of neural cells in the brain. Our laboratory uses two-photon fluorescence imaging, electrophysiology, chemogenetics, optogenetics and complementary pressure myography to gain insights into the interaction between members of the neurovascular unit in health and disease in hope of uncovering potential targets for diagnosis and treatment.


Our research program focuses on the temporally and spatially coordinated communication between neurons, astrocytes and vascular cells to achieve optimal local brain perfusion in awake behaving in vivo two-photon imaging model. From there, we then examine the integration of cells between different regions of the brain to understand how local signals operate to globally regulate not only the magnitude but also the dynamic distribution of blood supply to match with metabolic demands.

The brain's neural and vascular architecture is highly complex and we know that they cannot operate in isolation. We also recognize that members of the neurovascular unit need to work intricately with each other to regulate local blood flow during times of rest and in response to activity. However, the mechanistic basis of these pathways remains elusive. Our laboratory utilizes two-photon laser scanning fluorescence microscopes to detect real time neural and vascular activity at the cellular level. We use advanced technologies to probe at different physiological parameters to understand how neurons, astrocytes and vascular cells (i.e. smooth muscle cells, pericytes and endothelial cells) communicate with each other locally and how their signals are incorporated to globally regulate blood flow distribution to match with brain activity. Our goal is to uncover the mechanistic basis of these processes and how these integrated signals become deregulated in diseases.


Tran CHT, Peringod G and Gordon GR. Astrocytes Integrate Behavioral State and Vascular Signals During Functional Hyperemia. Neuron. 2018 Dec 5; 100(5):1133-1148

Welsh DG, Tran CHT, Hald BO and Sancho M. The Conducted Vasomotor Response: Function, Biophysical Basis and Pharmacological Control. Annu Rev Pharmacol Toxicol. 2018 Jan 6; 58:391-410. Doi:10.1146/annurev-pharmtox-010617-052623.

Tarantini S, Tran CHT, Gordon GR, Ungvari Z, Csiszar A. Impaired Neurovascular Coupling in Aging and Alzheimer's Disease: Contribution of Astrocyte Dysfunction and Endothelial Impairment to Cognitive Decline. Experimental Gerontology. 2017. 94:52-58. Doi:10.1016/j.exger.2016.11.004

Maarouf N, Sancho M, Furstenhaupt T, Tran CH and Welsh DG. Structural Analysis of Endothelial Projections from Mesenteric Arteries. Microcirculation. 2017. 24(3). Doi:10.1111/micc.12330.

Rosenegger DG, Tran CH, Cusulin JI, Gordon GR. Tonic local brain blood flow control by astrocytes independent of phasic neurovascular coupling. J Neurosci. 2015. 35(39):13463-74. Doi:10.1523/JNEUROSCI.1780-15.2015

Kerr PM, Wei R, Tam R, Sandow SL, Murphy TV, Ondrusova K, Lunn SE, Tran CHT, Welsh DG, and Plane F. Activation of endothelial IKCa channels underlies NO-dependent myoendothelial feedback. Vascul Pharmacol. 2015. 74: 130-8. Doi:10.1016/j.vph.2015.09.001

Tran CH, Gordon GR. Acute two-photon imaging of the neurovascular unit in the cortex of active mice. Front Cell Neurosci. 2015. 9:11 doi 10.3389/fncel.2015.00011

Tran CH, Gordon GR. Astrocyte and Microvascular Imaging in Awake Animals Using Two-photon Microscopy. Microcirculation 2015. doi: 10.1111/micc.12188

Rosenegger DG, Tran CH, LeDue J, Zhou N, and Gordon GR. A high performance, cost-effective, open-source microscope for scanning two-photon microscopy that is modular and readily adaptable. PLoS ONE 2014; 9(10): e110475. Doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0110475

Tran CH, Kurjiaka DT and Welsh DG. Emerging trend in second messenger communication and myoendothelial feedback. Front. Physiol. 2014; 5: 243

Nagaraja S, Kapela A, Tran CH, Welsh DG, Tsoukias NM. Role of microprojections in myoendothelial feedback--a theoretical study. J Physiol. 2013 Jun 01; 591(Pt 11): 2795-812.

Tran CH, Vigmond EJ, Goldman D, Plane F, Welsh DG. Electrical Communication in Branching Arterial Networks. Am J Physiol Heart Circ Physiol. 2012 Sep 15; 303(6):H680-92.

Kerr PM, Tam R, Ondrusova K, Mittal R, Narang D, Tran CH, Welsh DG, Plane F.Endothelial Feedback and the Myoendothelial Projection Microcirculation. 2012 Jul; 19(5):416-22.

Tran CH, Taylor MS, Plane F, Nagaraja S, Tsoukias NM, Solodushko V, Vigmond EJ, Furstenhaupt T, Brigdan M, Welsh DG. Endothelial Ca2+ Wavelets and the Induction of Myoendothelial Feedback. Am J Physiol Cell Physiol 2012 Apr 15; 302(8):C1226-42.

RE Mufti, SE Brett, CH Tran, R Abd El-Rahman, Y Anfinogenova, A El-Yazbi, WC Cole, PP Jones, WS Chen, DG Welsh. Intravascular pressure augments cerebral arterial constriction by inducing voltage-insensitive Ca2+ waves. J Physiol. 2010 Oct 15;588 (Pt 20):3983-4005.

Tran CH, Welsh DG. The Differential Hypothesis: a Provocative Rationalization of the Conducted Vasomotor Response. Microcirculation. 2010 Apr; 17(3): 226-36.

Tran CH, Vigmond EJ, Plane F and Welsh DG. Mechanistic Basis of Differential Conduction in Skeletal Muscle Arteries. J Physiol. 2009 Mar; 15; 587(Pt 6):1301-18.

Tran CH and Welsh DG. Current Perspective on Differential Communication in Small Resistance Arteries. Can J Physiol Pharmacol. 2009 Jan; 87(1):21-8.

Welsh DG, Tran CH, Plane F, Sandow S. Letter to the editor: "Are voltage-dependent ion channels involved in the endothelial cell control of vasomotor tone?" Am J Physiol Heart Circ Physiol. 2007 Sep; 293(3): H2007

Doran S. A., R. Koss, Tran CH, K. J. Christopher, W. J. Gallin and J. I. Goldberg. 2004. Effect of serotonin on ciliary beating and intracellular calcium concentration in identified populations of embryonic ciliary cells. The Journal of Experimental Biology 207: 1415-1429

Doran S. A., Tran CH, C. Eskicioglu, T. Stachniak, K. Ahn, and J. Goldberg. 2003. Constitutive and permissive roles of nitric oxide activity in embryonic ciliary cells. Am. J Physiol Regul Integr Comp Physiol 285: R348- R35