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Molecular and Cellular Biosciences at Wake Forest University

Wake Forest University Graduate School » Molecular and Cellular Biosciences

John S. Parks, Ph.D.

John S. Parks, Ph.D.
Professor, Internal Medicine- Section on Molecular Medicine Comprehensive Cancer Center Office of Women in Medicine and Science Center for Diabetes Research Translational Science Institute Biochemistry
Education & Training
BS North Carolina State University 1973
MS Wake Forest University 1976
PhD Wake Forest University 1979
Fellowship Boston University School of Medicine 1981
AHA - Council On Arteriosclerosis


Ma L, Murea M, Snipes JA, Marinelarena A, Kruger J, Hicks PJ, Langberg KA, Bostrom MA, Cooke JN, Suzuki D, Babazono T, Uzu T, Tang SC, Mondal AK, Sharma NK, Kobes S, Antinozzi PA, Davis M, Das SK, Rasouli N, Kern PA,. An ACACB variant implicated in diabetic nephropathy associates with body mass index and gene expression in obese subjects. PLoS One. 2013;8(2):e56193.

Sene A, Khan AA, Cox D, Nakamura RE, Santeford A, Kim BM, Sidhu R, Onken MD, Harbour JW, Hagbi-Levi S, Chowers I, Edwards PA, Baldan A, Parks JS, Ory DS, Apte RS. Impaired cholesterol efflux in senescent macrophages promotes age-related macular degeneration. Cell Metab. 2013;17(4):549-561.

Westerterp M, Murphy AJ, Wang M, Pagler TA, Vengrenyuk Y, Kappus MS, Gorman DJ, Nagareddy PR, Zhu X, Abramowicz S, Parks JS, Welch C, Fisher EA, Wang N, Yvan-Charvet L, Tall AR. Deficiency of ATP-binding cassette transporters A1 and G1 in macrophages increases inflammation and accelerates atherosclerosis in mice. Circ Res. 2013;112(11):1456-1465.

Cheng HY, Wu R, Gebre AK, Hanna RN, Smith DJ, Parks JS, Ley K, Hedrick CC.Increased cholesterol content in gammadelta T lymphocytes differentially regulates their activation. PLoS One. 2013;8(5):e63746.

Forrest LM, Lough CM, Chung S, Boudyguina EY, Gebre AK, Smith TL, Colvin PL, Parks JS. Echium oil reduces plasma triglycerides by increasing intravascular lipolysis in apoB100-only low density lipoprotein (LDL) receptor knockout mice. Nutrients. 2013;5(7):2629-2645.

Zhu X, Chung S, Bi X, Chuang CC, Brown AL, Liu M, Seo J, Cuffe H, Gebre AK, Boudyguina E, Parks JS. Myeloid cell-specific ABCA1 deletion does not worsen insulin resistance in HF diet-induced or genetically obese mouse models. J Lipid Res. 2013;54(10):2708-2717.

Forrest LM, Boudyguina E, Wilson MD, Parks JS. Echium oil reduces atherosclerosis in apoB100-only LDLrKO mice. Atherosclerosis. 2012;220(1):118-121.

Lord CC, Betters JL, Ivanova PT, Milne SB, Myers DS. Madenspacher J, Thomas G, Chung S, Liu M, Davis MA, Lee RG, Crooke RM, Graham MJ, Parks JS, Brasaemle DL, Fessler MB, Brown HA, Brown JM. CGI-58/ABHD5-derived signaling lipids regulates systemic inflammation and insulin action. Diabetes. 2012;61(2):355-363.

Liu M, Chung S, Shelness GS, Parks JS. Hepatic ABCA1 and VLDL triglyceride production. Biochim Biophys Acta. 2012;1821(5):770-777.

Rong S, Cao Q, Liu M, Seo J, Jia L, Boudyguina E, Gebre AK, Colvin PL, Smith TL, Murphy RC, Mishra N, Parks JS. Macrophage 12/15 lipoxygenase expression increases plasma and hepatic lipid levels and exacerbates atherosclerosis. J Lipid Res. 2012;53(4):686-695.

Parks JS, Chung S, Shelness GS. Hepatic ABC transporters and triglyceride metabolism. Curr Opin Lipidol. 2012;23(3):196-200.

Youm Y-H, Kanneganti T-D, Vandanmagsar B, Zhu X, Ravussin A, Adijiang A, Owen JS, Thomas MJ, Francis J, Parks JS, Dixit VD. The NLRP3 inflammasome promotes age-related thymic demise and immunosenescence. Cell Rep. 2012;1(1):56-68.

Sorci-Thomas MG, Owen JS, Fulp B, Bhat S, Zhu X, Parks JS, Shah D, Jerome WG, Gerelus M, Zabalawi M, Thomas MJ. Nascent high density lipoproteins formed by ABCA1 resemble lipid rafts and are structurally organized by three apoA-I monomers. J Lipid Res. 2012;53(9):1890-1909.

Zhu X, Parks JS. New roles of HDL in inflammation and hematopoiesis. Annu Rev Nutr. 2012;32():161-182.

Brown AL, Zhu X, Rong S, Shewale S, Seo J, Boudyguina E, Gebre AK, Alexander-Miller MA, Parks JS. Omega-3 fatty acids ameliorate atherosclerosis by favorably altering monocyte subsets and limiting monocyte recruitment to aortic lesions. Arterioscler Thromb Vasc Biol. 2012;32(9):2122-2130.

Sag D, Wingender G, Nowyhed H, Wu R, Gebre AK, Parks JS, Kronenberg M, Hedrick CC. ATP-binding cassette transporter G1 intrinsically regulates invariant NKT cell development. J Immunol. 2012;189(11):5129-5138.

Zhu X, Westcott MM, Bi X, Liu M, Gowdy KM, Seo J, Cao Q, Gebre AK, Fessler MB, Hiltbold EM, Parks JS. Myeloid cell-specific ABCA1 deletion protects mice from bacterial infection. Circ Res. 2012;111(11):1398-1409.

Ma L, Mondal AK, Murea M, Sharma NK, Langberg KA, Das SK, Antinozzi PA, Parks JS, Elbein SC [deceased], Freedman BI, et al. The effect of ACACB cis-variants on gene expression and metabolic traits. PLoS ONE. 2011;6(8):e23860.

Chung S, Sawyer JK, Gebre AK, Maeda N, Parks JS. Adipose tissue ATP binding cassette transporter A1 contributes to high-density lipoprotein biogenesis in vivo. Circulation. 2011;124(15):1663-1672.

Freedman BI, Langefeld CD, Murea M, Ma L, Otvos JD, Turner J, Antinozzi PA, Rocco MV, Parks JS. Apolipoprotein L1 (APOL1) nephropathy risk variants associate with HDL subfraction concentration in African Americans [abstract]. J Am Soc Nephrol. 2011;22(Abstract Suppl):178A.

Freedman BI, Langefeld CD, Murea M, Ma L, Otvos JD, Turner J, Antinozzi PA, Divers J, Hicks PJ, Bowden DW, Rocco MV, Parks JS. Apolipoprotein L1 nephropathy risk variants associate with HDL subfraction concentration in African Americans. Nephrol Dial Transplant. 2011;26(11):3805-3810.

Armstrong AJ, Gebre AK, Parks JS, Hedrick CC. ATP-binding cassette transporter G1 negatively regulates thymocyte and peripheral lymphocyte proliferation. J Immunol. 2010;184(1):173-183.

Brown JM, Chung S, Sawyer JK, Degirolamo C, Alger HM, Zhu X, Brown AL, Shah R, Davis MA, Kelley K, Wilson MD, Parks JS, Rudell LL, et al. Combined therapy of dietary fish oil and stearoyl-CoA desaturase 1 inhibition prevents the metabolic syndrome and atherosclerosis. Arterioscler Thromb Vasc Biol. 2010;30(1):24-30.

Mulya A, Seo J, Brown AL, Gebre AK, Boudyguina E, Shelness GS, Parks JS.Apolipoprotein M expression increases the size of nascent pre beta HDL formed by ATP binding cassette transporter A1. J Lipid Res. 2010;51(3):514-524.

Chung S, Timmins JM, Duong M, Degirolamo C, Rong S, Sawyer JK, Singaraja RR, Rudel LL, Shelness GS, Parks JS, et al. Targeted deletion of hepatocyte ABCA1 leads to very low density lipoprotein triglyceride overproduction and low density lipoprotein hypercatabolism. J Biol Chem. 2010;285(16):12197-209.

Chung S, Gebre AK, Seo J, Shelness GS, Parks JS. A novel role for ABCA1-generated large pre-beta migrating nascent HDL in the regulation of hepatic VLDL triglyceride secretion. J Lipid Res. 2010;51(4):729-742.

Whetzel AM, Sturek JM, Nagelin MH, Bolick DT, Gebre AK, Parks JS, Bruce AC, Skaflen MD, Hedrick CC. ABCG1 deficiency in mice promotes endothelial activation and monocyte-endothelial interactions. Arterioscler Thromb Vasc Biol. 2010;30(4):809-817.

Smoak KA, Aloor JJ, Madenspacher J, Merrick BA, Collins JB, Zhu X, Cavigiolio G, Oda MN, Parks JS, Fessler MB. Myeloid differentiation primary response protein 88 couples reverse cholesterol transport to inflammation. Cell Metab. 2010;11(6):493-502.

Sturek JM, Castle JD, Trace AP, Page LC, Castle AM, Evans-Molina C, Parks JS, Mirmira RG, Hedrick CC. An intracellular role for ABCG1-mediated cholesterol transport in the regulated secretory pathway of mouse pancreatic beta cells. J Clin Invest. 2010;120(7):2575-2589.

Zhu X, Owen JS, Wilson MD, Li H, Griffiths GL, Thomas MJ, Hiltbold EM, Fessler MB, Parks JS. Macrophage ABCA1 reduces MyD88-dependent Toll-like receptor trafficking to lipid rafts by reduction of lipid raft cholesterol. J Lipid Res. 2010;51(11):3196-3206.

Murea M, Freedman BI, Parks JS, Antinozzi PA, Elbein SC [deceased], Ma L.Lipotoxicity in diabetic nephropathy: the potential role of fatty acid oxidation. Clin J Am Soc Nephrol. 2010;5(12):2373-2379.

Bi X, Boudyguina E, Maeda N, Hayden M, Parks J. Hepatic ABCA1 deficiency does not significantly influence susceptibility to atherosclerosis in C57bl/6 Ldlr(-/-) mice [abstract]. Arterioscler Thromb Vasc Biol. 2010;30(11):e253.

Chung S, Rong S, Degirolamo C, Brown AW, Bi X, Forrest L, Temel R, Shelness GS, Parks JS. Hepatocyte-specific knockout of ABCA1 alleviates liver lipid accumulation but exacerbates hepatic insulin resistance and inflammation [abstract]. Arterioscler Thromb Vasc Biol. 2010;30(11):e187.

Forrest L, Lough C, Gebre A, Boudyguina E, Chung S, Parks J. Determining the hypotriglyceridemic effect of Echium oil [abstract]. Arterioscler Thromb Vasc Biol. 2010;30(11):e248.

Seo J, Boudyguina E, Gebre AK, Mullick A, Crooke RM, Lee RG, Parks JS. Effect of apolipoprotein M expression on HDL-cholesterol concentration and subclass distribution in human ApoA-I transgenic mice [abstract]. Arterioscler Thromb Vasc Biol. 2010;30(11):e210-e211.

Brunham LR, Singaraja RR, Duong M, Timmins JM, Fievet C, Bissada N, Kang MH, Samra A, Fruchart J-C, Parks JS, et al. Tissue-specific roles of ABCA1 influence susceptibility to atherosclerosis. Arterioscler Thromb Vasc Biol. 2009;29(4):548-554.

Domoki F, Kis B, Gaspar T, Snipes JA, Parks JS, Bari F, Busija DW. Rosuvastatin induces delayed preconditioning against oxygen-glucose deprivation in cultured cortical neurons. Am J Physiol Cell Physiol. 2009;296(1):C97-C105.

Karasinska JM, Rinninger F, Lutjohann D, Ruddle P, Franciosi S, Kruit JK, Singaraja RR, Hirsch-Reinshagen V, Fan J, Parks JS, et al. Specific loss of brain ABCA1 increases brain cholesterol uptake and influences neuronal structure and function. J Neurosci. 2009;29(11):3579-3589.

Hirsch-Reinshagen V, Donkin J, Stukas S, Chan J, Wilkinson A, Fan J, Parks JS, Kuivenhoven JA, Lutjohann D, Pritchard H, et al. LCAT synthesized by primary astrocytes esterifies cholesterol on glia-derived lipoproteins. J Lipid Res. 2009;50(5):885-893.

A-Gonzalez N, Bensinger SJ, Hong C, Beceiro S, Bradley MN, Zelcer N, Deniz J, Ramirez C, Diaz M, Parks J, et al. Apoptotic cells promote their own clearance and immune tolerance through activation of the nuclear receptor LXR. Immunity. 2009;31(2):245-258.

Chilton FH, Rudel LL, Parks JS, Arm JP, Seeds MC. Mechanisms by which botanical lipids affect inflammatory disorders. Am J Clin Nutr. 2008;87(2 Suppl):498S-503S.

Bensinger SJ, Bradley MN, Joseph SB, Zelcer N, Janssen EM, Hausner MA, Shih R, Parks JS, Edwards PA, Jamieson BD, et al. LXR signaling couples sterol metabolism to proliferation in the acquired immune response. Cell. 2008;134(1):97-111.

Brown JM, Chung S, Sawyer JK, Degirolamo C, Alger HM, Zhu X, Duong M-N, Wibley AL, Shah R, Davis MA, Kelley K, Wilson MD, Kent C, Parks JS, Rudel LL, et al. Inhibition of stearoyl-coenzyme A desaturase 1 dissociates insulin resistance and obesity from atherosclerosis. Circulation. 2008;118(14):1467-1475.

Zhu X, Lee J-Y, Timmins JM, Brown JM, Boudyguina E, Mulya A, Gebre AK, Willingham MC, Mishra N, Parks JS, et al. Increased cellular free cholesterol in macrophage-specific Abca1 knock-out mice enhances pro-inflammatory response of macrophages. J Biol Chem. 2008;283(34):22930-41.

Zhang P, Boudyguina E, Wilson MD, Gebre AK, Parks JS. Echium oil reduces plasma lipids and hepatic lipogenic gene expression in apoB100-only LDL receptor knockout mice. J Nutr Biochem. 2008;19(10):655-663.

Mulya A, Lee J-Y, Gebre AK, Boudyguina EY, Chung S-K, Smith TL, Colvin PL, Jiang X-C, Parks JS. Initial interaction of apoA-I with ABCA1 impacts in vivo metabolic fate of nascent HDL. J Lipid Res. 2008;49(11):2390-2401.


My lab has several National Institutes of Health (NIH)-funded projects that focus on the pathogenesis of complex, chronic diseases such as atherosclerosis (i.e., hardening of the arteries), diabetes, obesity, and end-stage renal disease. We study the effect of lipid metabolism and inflammation on the development and progression of complex metabolic diseases. To accomplish the goals of our grant projects, we use an interdisciplinary approach that includes transgenic/gene-targeted mouse models of human disease, molecular biology, cell biology, biochemistry, mass spectrometry, and vascular wall biology. Liver ABCA1, Lipoprotein Metabolism and Atherosclerosis ATP binding cassette transporter A1 (ABCA1) is a membrane protein that functions to assemble nascent high density lipoproteins (HDL), the so called “good form of cholesterol.” ABCA1 is expressed in most cells in the body, but the cell-specific role of the transporter in liver lipoprotein metabolism and the development of atherosclerosis is poorly understood. We developed a hepatocyte-specific ABCA1 knockout (HSKO) mouse that exhibits low plasma HDL and low density lipoprotein (LDL) concentrations (20% and 50% of normal, respectively) and elevated triglyceride (TG) concentrations compared to wild type mice. The goal of this project is to understand mechanistically how hepatocyte-specific expression of ABCA1 impacts lipoprotein metabolism and the development of atherosclerosis. Macrophage ABCA1, Inflammation, and Atherosclerosis Accumulation of cholesteryl ester (CE)-laden macrophages (a type of white blood cells) in arteries is a hallmark of atherosclerosis (i.e., hardening of the arteries). Macrophages are a key cell type in innate immunity and are involved in the processing of excess lipid from apoptotic and necrotic cells at sites of inflammation. ABCA1 is a membrane protein that is required to remove excess lipid from macrophages by transporting phospholipid (PL) and free cholesterol (FC) across the cell membrane to combine with apolipoprotein A-I (apoA-I), forming nascent HDLs that transport excess lipid back to the liver for excretion. Genetic absence of ABCA1 results in Tangier disease, which is characterized by CE-loaded macrophages, absence of plasma HDL, and premature atherosclerosis. Results from published studies of ABCA1 total body knockout mice suggest an association between ABCA1 expression, atherosclerosis, inflammation, and insulin resistance. However, the nearly ubiquitous expression of ABCA1 in the body has made it difficult to determine the specific role of macrophage ABCA1 in the pathogenesis of these diseases in total body ABCA1 knockout mice. To address these gaps in knowledge, we developed macrophage-specific ABCA1 KO (MSKO) mice. The goal of this proposal is to use MSKO mice to determine the mechanisms by which macrophage-specific deletion of ABCA1 expression: 1) increases macrophage inflammation, 2) affects atherosclerosis development, and 3) increases development of obesity and insulin resistance. Atheroprotective Mechanisms of Borage and Echium Oils This project is part of the Wake Forest Center for Botanical Lipids and Inflammatory Disease Prevention. We have demonstrated that Echium oil (EO), a botanical oil enriched in stearidonic acid (18:4 n-3), the immediate downstream product of the rate-limiting delta-6 desaturation of alpha-linolenic acid (18:3 n-3), reduces plasma lipids, inflammation, and atherosclerosis similar to fish oil (FO), but we do not know the exact mechanisms for the protection. EO also contains 11% gamma-linolenic acid (GLA, 18:3 n-6), which is the delta-6 desaturation product of linoleic acid (18:2 n-6) and thus, can provide substrate for conversion to anti-inflammatory series 1 prostaglandin (PGE1). However, we do not know whether a botanical oil that is enriched in GLA, such as borage oil (BO; 25% GLA), is equally protective or less protective than EO. The goal of this project is to investigate whether EO and BO are equally atheroprotective and to determine anti-atherogenic mechanisms of these botanical oils. Our primary hypothesis is that both EO and BO will reduce atherosclerosis relative to palm oil (PO), by attenuating the rise of proinflammatory monocytes in blood and the trafficking of monocytes into atherosclerotic lesions (specific aim 1). Furthermore, we hypothesize that EO and BO will result in alternative activation of macrophages, relative to PO, resulting in less inflammatory macrophages (specific aim 2). Finally, we propose that the polyunsaturated fatty acid (PUFA)-induced macrophage alternative activation will occur through multiple mechanisms that include antagonism of proinflammatory gene transactivation, PPARgamma-dependent transactivation of anti-inflammatory genes, and PPARgamma-dependent transrepression of pro-inflammatory genes (specific aim 3). The proposed mechanistic studies should allow us to determine the best botanical oils or combinations to move into human trials to test for reduction of atherosclerosis risk and inflammation and to improve our basic information regarding the mechanism of action of botanical oils in chronic disease prevention. ApoL1 and End-stage Kidney Disease in African-Americans ApoL1 is an apolipoprotein that binds to HDL and protects humans from African sleeping sickness caused by the parasite Trypansoma brucei brucei. When apoL1 is internalized by trypanosomes, it trafficks to the lysosome where it forms pores and causes the trypanosome to swell and rupture. However, some subspecies of trypanosomes, for instance T. b. rhodesiense, produce a serum resistance factor that blocks the action of apoL1, resulting in African sleeping sickness. African-Americans produce several variant forms of apoL1 that do not bind to serum resistance factor, allowing killing of trypanosomes. However, these African-American variants of apoL1 are associated with a 7-10 fold increased risk of end stage kidney disease. The Parks lab is involved in a new collaborative NIH study (Dr. Barry Freedman, PI) that seeks to understand mechanistically how the risk variant forms of apoL1 result in increased risk of end-stage kidney disease in African-Americans.