The National Institute of Dental and Craniofacial Research has awarded Duke Anesthesiology’s Dr. Ru-Rong Ji and his co-principal investigator, Dr. Maiken Nedergaard, a one-year, $100,000 National Institutes of Health grant for their project titled, “Hemichannels, Astrocytic Release, and Neuropathic Pain.”
Pain conditions are a major health problem in the United States which can lead to medical morbidity and a reduced quality of life for millions of Americans. Chronic neuropathic pain conditions are especially difficult to treat. A largely unaddressed challenge is how the transition from acute pain to chronic neuropathic pain occurs and how to prevent and reverse this transition in patients. This project will employ a multidisciplinary approach including the use of inducible transgenic mice with genetically modified astrocytes, in vivo imaging of ATP release (bioluminescence) and microglia motility and Ca2+ changes (2-photon) in the spinal cord, behavioral testing of evoked and ongoing neuropathic pain after nerve injury, and ex vivo and in vivo electrophysiology in the spinal cord. The proposed studies will provide a step-by-step analysis of neuron-glia interactions initiated by nerve injury and may comprise an efficient means to prevent and treat chronic pain.
Dr. Ji is a distinguished professor of anesthesiology at the Duke University School of Medicine, the chief of pain research at Duke Anesthesiology, a faculty member of Duke Anesthesiology’s Center for Translational Pain Medicine and the director of the department’s Pain Signaling and Plasticity Laboratory. Dr. Gang Chen, the co-investigator of this project, is also a member of Dr. Ji’s lab. This award is a supplement to Dr. Ji’s larger NIH R01 of the same name.