A photo of Xiaofei Sun.

Assistant Professor, UC Department of Pediatrics


Biography & Affiliation


My research focuses on female reproductive biology. I am attempting to uncover the molecular processes to gain successful implantation and placentation in mouse pregnancy. I’ve had long-term interests in reproduction and have accumulated more than 10 years of experience in my field.

Most of my research studies focus on the roles of endocannabinoid signaling in reproduction. My colleagues and I have reached results showing that abnormal endocannabinoid signaling has adverse effects on several pregnancy events.

In our lab, we’ve found that the uterus is the main target for endocannabinoid signaling and that the endocannabinoid system is laid out in the mouse uterus. Our research discovered that abnormal endocannabinoid signaling led to compromised placentation along with oviductal embryo transport and implantation. This occurs because of deficient trophoblast stem cell differentiation.

My colleagues and I have also discovered that either silenced or amplified endocannabinoid signaling compromises the intrusion of trophoblast cells. I uncovered that the transcriptional factor KLF5 is a critical factor in mouse implantation and found that the right uterine epithelial responses to implanting embryos are needed for effective implantation.

In our study with mouse models that had uterine specific deletion of Gp130 and Stat3, we found that LIF signaling is moderated by Gp130 and Stat3. I also identified entosis as a mechanism to remove uterine luminal epithelial cells by trophoblast cells in implantation, conferring a role for entosis in an important physiological process.

Essentially, the earliest stage of pregnancy is a dynamic process. My laboratory research attempts to address the most significant obstacles in today’s assisted reproductive technology.

I first joined the Cincinnati Children’s Hospital Medical Center in 2008. I’ve also been granted the Lalor Foundation postdoctoral fellowship award. My skills range from reproductive biology, to endocannabinoid signaling in reproduction and implantation to assisted reproductive technology and reproductive toxicology.

My research has been published in a multitude of prominent journals, including PNAS, Cell Reports, PLoS Genetics, Biology of Reproduction and The Journal of Biological Chemistry.

Research Interests

Reproductive biology; endocannabinoid signaling in reproduction

Academic Affiliation

Assistant Professor, UC Department of Pediatrics

Research Divisions

Reproductive Sciences

Blog Posts


BSc: Zhejiang University, China, 2002.

PhD: Vanderbilt University, Nashville, TN, 2010.


Imaging and Analysis of Isomeric Unsaturated Lipids through Online Photochemical Derivatization of Carbon-Carbon Double Bonds*. Unsihuay, D; Su, P; Hu, H; Qiu, J; Kuang, S; Li, Y; Sun, X; Dey, SK; Laskin, J. Angewandte Chemie - International Edition. 2021; 60:7559-7563.

Maternal regulation of inflammatory cues is required for induction of preterm birth. Cappelletti, M; Doll, JR; Stankiewicz, TE; Lawson, MJ; Sauer, V; Wen, B; Kalinichenko, VV; Sun, X; Tilburgs, T; Divanovic, S. JCI insight. 2020; 5.

Pregnancy success in mice requires appropriate cannabinoid receptor signaling for primary decidua formation. Li, Y; Dewar, A; Kim, YS; Dey, SK; Sun, X. eLife. 2020; 9.

Uterine deficiency of high-mobility group box-1 (HMGB1) protein causes implantation defects and adverse pregnancy outcomes. Aikawa, S; Deng, W; Liang, X; Yuan, J; Bartos, A; Sun, X; Dey, SK. Cell Death and Differentiation. 2020; 27:1489-1504.

Primary decidual zone formation requires Scribble for pregnancy success in mice. Yuan, J; Aikawa, S; Deng, W; Bartos, A; Walz, G; Grahammer, F; Huber, TB; Sun, X; Dey, SK. Nature Communications. 2019; 10.

High spatial resolution imaging of biological tissues using nanospray desorption electrospray ionization mass spectrometry. Yin, R; Burnum-Johnson, KE; Sun, X; Dey, SK; Laskin, J. Nature Protocols. 2019; 14:3445-3470.

Endothelial Cells in the Decidual Bed Are Potential Therapeutic Targets for Preterm Birth Prevention. Deng, W; Yuan, J; Cha, J; Sun, X; Bartos, A; Yagita, H; Hirota, Y; Dey, SK. Cell Reports. 2019; 27:1755-1768.e4.

Mice Missing Cnr1 and Cnr2 Show Implantation Defects. Li, Y; Bian, F; Sun, X; Dey, SK. Endocrinology. 2019; 160:938-946.

Endothelial Cells in the Decidual Bed Is a Potential Target for Preterm Birth. Deng, W; Yuan, J; Cha, J; Sun, X; Bartos, A; Yagita, H; Hirota, Y; Dey, SK. 2018.

Tridimensional visualization reveals direct communication between the embryo and glands critical for implantation. Yuan, J; Deng, W; Cha, J; Sun, X; Borg, J; Dey, SK. Nature Communications. 2018; 9.