In general we are currently exploring two major topics in pain research:
- Central nervous system mechanisms of pain amplification (hyperalgesia) and touch evoked pain (allodynia) and
- Mechanisms and novel targets for the treatment and prevention of pain syndromes.
We tackle these topics with biochemical, electrophysiological and imaging technologies including 2-photon laser scanning microscopy in vivo.
In more detail our current research covers these topics and phenomena:
- Long-term potentiation (LTP) of synaptic strength is mostly mentioned as a mechanism for learning and memory in the brain. In the spinal cord LTP contributes to prolonged pain amplification and represents a cellular model for hyperalgesia. -more-
- Opioids are still the gold standard for the treatment of moderate to severe pain and binding to opioid receptors in the spinal cord plays a major role for their analgetic effect. Opioids may, however, also cause paradoxical pain amplification (hyperalgesia) that develops either on their abrupt withdrawal or during their continuous long-term use. ‑more-
- γ-Aminobutyric acid (GABA) is the principal inhibitory neurotransmitter in spinal dorsal horn. GABAergic inhibition plays a pivotal role in the processing of nociceptive information in the spinal cord. Under neuropathic conditions, spinal inhibition can be impaired and enhancing GABAergic neurotransmission in the spinal cord leads to pain relief. -more-