Dr Jian Guan



My research highlights are the discovery of the protective effects of IGF-1 and its metabolites GPE and cGP after acute brain injury and in chronical neurological conditions in animal models.The article reporting my initial discovery of IGF-1 in neuroprotection was cited 283 times. Two articles that reported the mode and mechanism of action of IGF-1 in stroke were cited 167 and 105 times respectively. An invited review article by Progress in Neurology to summarize my work confirms the recognition as the leading scientist in this field.The discovery of the neuroprotection of GPE was a significant breakthrough in pharmaceutical development of growth factors, which offered an opportunity to form the first university based pharmaceutical company in New Zealand, NeuronZ, Auckland, to develop GPE and its analogues for neurological conditions. The discovery enabled us to secure 6 years of research funding from MBIE. I was a named intermediate outcome leader and the driver of research development. The preclinical development has resulted in a clinical trial of GPE in stroke and a clinical trial of a GPE analogue (NNZ2566) in traumatic brain injury. During the research developing GPE, I discovered neuroprotection by another IGF-1 metabolite, cyclic glycine-proline (cGP). The discovery secured another 6 years funding from MBIE to develop cGP analogues for treating neurodegenerative conditions. The research outcome from the second MBIE funding resulted in a clinical trial of an analogue (NNZ2591) for dementia. More importantly, I have discovered the mechanism of these metabolites, in which they restore and maintain IGF-1 function only under pathological conditions. This landmark discovery extends the clinical applications of cGP to a list of medical conditions associated with impairment of IGF-1 homeostasis as biomarkers and/or as potential interventions. I have broad clinical collaborations throughout the world for developing cGP as biomarkers and/or interventions. Recent research outcome on cGP as a biomarker is promising. I am the inventor of 14 patents and primary author on 15 publications related to the discovery and preclinical development of GPE and cGP, evidence for my leading role in their translational research and commercialisation.I have established a new research area of nutritional neuroscience locally, aiming to improve mental wellbeing of humans. This research on a role for nutrition in age-related cognitive decline and brain development has resulted in patents, marketing of an infant formula and publications. The discovery of novel dairy ingredients for infant formula provides health and economic benefit to New Zealand and worldwide. I have initiated research for evaluating the potential metabolic origin of brain degeneration and reported, for the first time, Parkinson disease as a small vessel disease.I am an internationally recognised scientist who is established and continues to lead my research field.

Research | Current

Nutritional neuroscience in developing and aging brains; NeuropharmacologyVascular degeneration in Parkinson disease and aging; Clinical evaluation of the biomarker for impairment of IGF-1 funciton and Radiation and brain necrosis and apoptosis.

Recent Publications:*2015 Guillermo R, Yang P, Zhang R, Vickers M, Mcjarrow P And Guan J. Supplementation of complex milk lipids during brain development promoted neuroplasticity, but did not alter myelination and vascular density. Food and Nutrition Research 2015, 59: 25765 - http://dx.doi.org/10.3402/fnr.v59.25765) (impact factor 2.4).*2015 Yang P,  Pavlovic D, Richard Faull, Mike Dragunow Beth Synek,  Clinton Turner Henry Waldvogel and Guan J, String vessel formation is increased in the brain of Parkinson disease. J of Parkinson Diseases. 5 (2015) 821–8362015 Palmano K, Rowan A*, Guillermo R, Guan J And Mcjarrow P. The Role of Gangliosides in Neurodevelopment. Nutrients 2015, 7, 3891-3913; doi:10.3390/nu7053891(impact factor 3.2)*2015 GUAN J, MACGIBBON A, FONG B, ZHANG R, LIU K, ROWAN A AND MCJARROW P. Long-term Supplementation of BSC, a Complex of Milk Lipids, During  Post-natal Brain Development Improves Memory in rats. Nutrients 2015, 7, 4526-4541; doi:10.3390/nu7064526 (special issue: Nutrition in cognitive function) (impact factor 3.2)*2015  GUAN J, HARRIS P, BRIMBLE M, LEI Y, LU J, YANG Y AND J GUNN A, The role for IGF-1 derived small neuropeptides as a therapeutic target for neurological disorders. Expert Opinion on Therapeutic Targets. Invited review 2015 Feb 5:1-9 (impact factor 4.9)*2015 PHILLIPS GMA, SHORTEN PR, WAKE GC AND GUAN J, Dynamical modelling of the effect of insulin-like growth factor -1 on human cell growth. Mathematical Bioscience Journal 2015 Jan; 259:43-54. (IF 1.48)*2015 GUAN J, MACGIBBON A, ZHANG R, ELLIFFE D, MOON S AND LIU DX. Supplementation of Dairy Complex Lipid Concentrate (PGC80) Improved the Memory of Aged Rats. Nutritional Neuroscience 2015 Jan;18(1):22-9 (IF 2.2)*2014 GUAN J, GLUCKMAN PD, YANG PZ, KRISSANSEN G, SUN K, ZHOU Y, WEN JY, SHORTEN P, WAKE G, MCMAHON CD, THOMAS MF, PHILIP G, CHEN W, S MOON, A REN AND LIU DX, Cyclic glycine-proline regulates IGF-1 homeostasis by altering the binding of IGFBP-3 to IGF-1 Scientific Report, 4, 4388 (IF 5.58), ranked 8th of multidisciplinary science journals.*2014 MATHAI S, GUNN AJ, BRIMBLE MA, HARRIS PW AND GUAN J. Neuroprotection with Glycin-2methyl-Proline-Glutamate (G-2mPE) after hypoxic-ischemic brain injury in adult rats. Journal of Experimental Stroke Translational Medicine 6: 1-112013 G S MALLAH, J DOBSON, S MOON, H HENDERSON, A MOLENAAR1, J GUAN, K SINGH The effect of re-milking following extended non-milking periods on the proliferation and apoptosis of mammary epithelial cells in dairy cows, NZSAP 73: 51-53*2013 GUAN J, MATAI S, LIANG HP AND GUNN JA Insulin-like growth factor-1 and its derivatives: Potential pharmaceutical application for treating neurological conditions. Recent Patents on CNS drug discovery 2013 8(2) 142-168 (impact factor 5.27).*2013 Guan J, Pavlovic D, Darkie N, Waldvigel H, Green C and Nicholson L. Vascular degeneration of Parkinson Disease. Brain Pathology 23(2) 154-164 (impact factor 4.7 doi: 10.1111/j.1750-3639.2012628)2013 JUNG S BRIMBLE M, YANG S, HARRIS P, REDDINGIUS T, MUIR B, GUAN J, AND SAVAGE P Synthesis and Self-Assembly of a Peptide-Amphiphile as a Drug Delivery Vehicle. Australia J Chem 66: 23-29 (Impact factor 2.4)

Postgraduate supervision


  1. Dr A Baker, a PhD student, on a project testing the efficacy and the pharmaco-kinetics of GPE in an experimental model of stroke in rats. Awarded 2009. The data were published in Neuropeptides
  2. Dr Rita Krishnamurthi, a PhD student, on a project examining the treatment effects of GPE in 6-OHDA induced Parkinson’s disease in an animal model. Awarded 2006. There are 3 journal articles generated from the thesis
  3. Dr Vincent Roelfsema, PhD student, on Neural and endocrine responses to LPS, GH and hypothermia. PhD has been awarded 2006. I was involved in supervising the research on biological and histological analyses of brain tissues.
  4. Primary supervisor for Gagandeep Mallah Singh, an international PhD student working on a project examining ‘The effects of cGP in regulating IGF-1 mediated lactation/involution in rats’.
  5. Primary supervisor for Panzao Yang, an international PhD student working on a project that evaluates ‘IGF-1 resistance in brain degeneration of Parkinson disease’.
  6.  Primary Supervisor for Dawei Fan, an international PhD student working on a project that testing IGF-1 deficiency in neurological disease.

Selected publications and creative works (Research Outputs)

  • Fan, D., Alamri, Y., Liu, K., MacAskill, M., Harris, P., Brimble, M., ... Laurenson, A. (2018). Supplementation of Blackcurrant Anthocyanins Increased Cyclic Glycine-Proline in the Cerebrospinal Fluid of Parkinson Patients: Potential Treatment to Improve Insulin-Like Growth Factor-1 Function. Nutrients, 10 (6).10.3390/nu10060714
    URL: http://hdl.handle.net/2292/41677
    Other University of Auckland co-authors: Margaret Brimble, Karen Liu, Paul Harris
  • Guan, J., Singh-Mallah, G., Liu, K., Thorstensen, E., Shorten, P., Mitchell, E. A., ... Thompson, J. M. D. (2018). The role for cyclic Glycine-Proline, a biological regulator of insulin-like growth factor-1 in pregnancy-related obesity and weight changes. Journal of biological regulators and homeostatic agents, 32 (3), 465-478.
    URL: http://hdl.handle.net/2292/43579
    Other University of Auckland co-authors: Margaret Brimble, John Thompson, Paul Harris, Rinki Murphy, Rennae Taylor
  • Singh-Mallah, G., Singh, K., McMahon, C. D., Harris, P., Brimble, M. A., Thorstensen, E., & Guan, J. (2016). Maternally administered cyclic glycine-proline increases insulin-like growth factor-1 bioavailability and novelty recognition in developing offspring. Endocrinology, 157 (8), 3130-3139. 10.1210/en.2016-1189
    URL: http://hdl.handle.net/2292/41443
    Other University of Auckland co-authors: Margaret Brimble, Eric Thorstensen, Paul Harris
  • Guan, J., Yang, P., Faill, R. L. M., Dragunow, M., & Waldvogel, H. J. (2016). Vascular degeneration in Parkinson's disease. MOVEMENT DISORDERS, 31, S237-S237.
    URL: http://hdl.handle.net/2292/40140
    Other University of Auckland co-authors: Michael Dragunow
  • Palmano, K., Rowan, A., Guillermo, R., Guan, J., & McJarrow, P. (2015). The role of gangliosides in neurodevelopment. Nutrients, 7 (5), 3891-3913. 10.3390/nu7053891
  • Guan, J., MacGibbon, A., Zhang, R., Elliffe, D. M., Moon, S., & Liu, D. (2013). Supplementation of complex milk lipid concentrate (CMLc) improved the memory of aged rats. Nutritional Neuroscience10.1179/1476830513Y.0000000096
    Other University of Auckland co-authors: Rong Zhang, Douglas Elliffe
  • Guan, J., Mathai, S., Liang, H.-P., & Gunn, A. J. (2013). Insulin-like growth factor-1 and its derivatives: potential pharmaceutical application for treating neurological conditions. Recent Pat CNS Drug Discov, 8 (2), 142-160.
    Other University of Auckland co-authors: Alistair Gunn
  • Guan, J., Pavlovic, D., Dalkie, N., Waldvogel, H. J., O'Carroll SJ, Green, C. R., & Nicholson, L. F. B. (2013). Vascular degeneration in Parkinson's disease. Brain Pathol, 23 (2), 154-164. 10.1111/j.1750-3639.2012.00628.x
    URL: http://hdl.handle.net/2292/46436
    Other University of Auckland co-authors: Simon OCarroll, Henry Waldvogel, Colin Green, Michael Dragunow


Contact details

Primary office location

M&HS BUILDING 502 - Bldg 502
Level 5, Room 501
New Zealand

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