A photo of Xiaofei Sun.

Xiaofei Sun, PhD

  • Member, Center of Reproductive Sciences
  • Associate Professor, UC Department of Pediatrics



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.

BSc: Zhejiang University, China, 2002.

PhD: Vanderbilt University, Nashville, TN, 2010.


Female reproductive biology; endocannabinoid signaling in reproduction

Research Areas

Reproductive Sciences


Tissue-Specific RNA Localization in the Uterus During Implantation, Decidualization and Placentation: Technical Nuances of Various Labeling Approaches. Dewar, A; Deng, W; Sun, X; Dey, SK. 2023; 3:e823.

An unanticipated discourse of HB-EGF with VANGL2 signaling during embryo implantation. Kim, YS; Yuan, J; Dewar, A; Borg, JP; Threadgill, DW; Sun, X; Dey, SK. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of USA. 2023; 120:e2302937120.

Targeted depletion of uterine glandular Foxa2 induces embryonic diapause in mice. Matsuo, M; Yuan, J; Kim, YS; Dewar, A; Fujita, H; Dey, SK; Sun, X. eLife. 2022; 11:e78277.

High-Throughput Nano-DESI Mass Spectrometry Imaging of Biological Tissues Using an Integrated Microfluidic Probe. Li, X; Hu, H; Yin, R; Li, Y; Sun, X; Dey, SK; Laskin, J. Analytical Chemistry. 2022; 94:9690-9696.

In situ imaging reveals disparity between prostaglandin localization and abundance of prostaglandin synthases. Duncan, KD; Sun, X; Baker, ES; Dey, SK; Lanekoff, I. Communications Biology. 2021; 4:966.

High-resolution imaging and identification of biomolecules using Nano-DESI coupled to ion mobility spectrometry. Unsihuay, D; Yin, R; Sanchez, DM; Yang, M; Li, Y; Sun, X; Dey, SK; Laskin, J. Analytica Chimica Acta. 2021; 1186:339085.

Cannabinoid and planar cell polarity signaling converges to direct placentation. Kim, YS; Li, Y; Yuan, J; Borg, JP; Sun, X; Dey, SK. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of USA. 2021; 118:e2108201118.

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:e138812.

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:e61762.