Our research goal is to better understand the relationship between the hormonal and inflammatory changes associated with obesity and chronic pain. Obesity greatly increases the risk of developing chronic pain, which is a particularly pernicious feature of the disease, since it can establish a vicious cycle, where avoidance of physical activity fosters a more sedentary lifestyle. Therefore, chronic pain associated with obesity should be viewed not only as detrimental to day-to-day quality of life, but also as a significant roadblock to the effective treatment of obesity and reduction in the risk of its many co-morbidities. Utilizing a mouse model of diet-induced obesity, we are studying high fat diet-induced changes in basal sensitivity to thermal and mechanical stimulation, as well as the effect of obesity-induced changes on inflammatory pain responses.
The changes we observe strongly suggest a pro-inflammatory connection between obesity and peripheral sensitization to pain. To further our understanding of the inter- and intracellular signaling events involved, we are also utilizing live-cell imaging of sensory neurons and immune cells, in combination with pharmacological, electrophysiological and rodent genetic approaches. This research is inherently multi-disciplinary, with aspects of neuroscience, immunology, endocrinology and cardiovascular research all central to achieving our research goal.
Washington University Pain Center
Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis
660 S. Euclid Avenue, St. Louis, MO 63110
Voice (314) 362-8244