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Institute of Pharmacology

Structural plasticity of nociceptive nerves in disease states

Structural plasticity of nerves in disease states is theme central to several of our projects. For example, in states of bone cancer, nociceptive terminals sprout in the epidermis of the skin adjoining the tumor. Similarly, in chronic pancreatitis as well as pancreas carcinoma, nerves innervating the pancreas demonstrate marked hypertrophy and sprouting. Because these structural changes are usually studied in post-mortem tissues, it is difficult to judge whether they are responsible for a range of sensory abnormalities or whether they are mere adaptive changes in occurring in response to the pathology and pain. In order to study the functional aspect of such structural changes, it is necessary to use imaging methods in living tissue. Towards this end, we have established a mouse line, called SNS-EGFP, expressing the live fluorescent label, EGFP solely in nociceptive fibers. Furthermore, in SST2-EGFP mice, an additional mouse line which we have generated, EGFP is expressed selectively in non-peptidergic nociceptors. Using such tools, we would like to address molecular mechanisms underlying dynamic changes in nociceptive terminals in disease states. This work is partly supported by the Chica and Heinz Schaller Stiftung.



Use of genetic indicator mice, e.g. SNS-EGFP, to image nociceptors in the skin specifically


Group members involved: Martina Kurejova, Stefan Brugger, Hans-Joseph Wrede