Departments & Divisions
Currently seeking Ph.D. students.
Pain is a sex- and age-dependent phenomenon. Many inflammatory and idiopathic chronic pain conditions, such as migraine, fibromyalgia, TMD, rheumatoid arthritis, have 2-6-fold greater prevalence and/or symptom severity in women as compared to men. There has been little-to-no overall improvement in pain management for the elderly. Clinical data indicate that the problems in managing pain in the elderly stem from how standard analgesics act differently in aged individuals, and longer recovery times after trauma and surgery compared to younger patients.
A main research interest of Dr. Armen Akopian's lab is to understand why standard analgesics has sex- and age-dependent efficiency; and importantly, why chronicity of pain conditions affected by sex and age. Accordingly, our current projects are investigating:
(1) Roles of pituitary hormones in control of sex-specific mechanisms of pain
(2) Signaling controlling sex-dependent actions (i.e. efficacy, tolerance) of opioids
(3) Meningeal signaling in underlying mechanisms of female-selectivity of migraine
(4) Alterations of opioid actions and postoperative pain mechanisms in elderlies
Immune-mediated pulmonary diseases are chronic debilitating conditions, affecting millions. Unfortunately, the number of people with these conditions continues to grow. The environment increasingly contributes to this grim picture. Hence, the lab’s second interest is focused on understanding how the nervous system and other lung cells mediate effects of clean diesel technologies on the airways.
The lab uses a multidisciplinary research approach that includes electrophysiology, behavioral physiology, anatomy, pharmacology, biochemistry and cell biology.
We investigate conceptually novel mechanisms linking prolactin to female-selective control of certain types of migraine. We investigate a conceptually novel mechanism for the transition from acute to chronic pain in females, which is based on sex-specific local translation in nociceptive synapses and its regulation by gonadal hormones and prolactin.
Diseases Associated: Postoperative pain Chemotherapy-induced pain TMD/TMJ Migraine
Specific Field of Study: General, sex and age-dependent mechanisms of pain chronicity
Techniques Used: Imaging in vitro and in vivo Electro-physiology Sequencing Transgenic mice Behavioral physiology
NIH, NINDS R01 NS112263-01A1 (multi-PI: Akopian and Tumanov) 2020-2025
Title: Lymphotoxin-beta receptor peripheral signaling regulates the transition to inflammation and neuropathy-induced chronic pain
Major goals: The proposed research major goal is to understand underlying mechanisms controlling transition from acute to chronic pain state for inflammatory chemotherapy-induced pain conditions.
NIH, NIDCR R01 DE029187 (multi-PI: Akopian, Ruparel and Tumanov) 2019-2024
Title: LIGHT and Lymphotoxin targeting for the treatment of chronic orofacial pain conditions
Major goals: The proposed research major goal is to advance our understanding of mechanisms regulating the development and maintenance of orofacial pain; and offers targets and an immunotherapeutic approach for preventing and blocking chronic pain during TMJD and oral cancer.
Akopian AN, Hovhannisyn, AH, Patil, Mayur M. Characteristics of sensory neuronal groups in CGRP-1 cre-ER reporter mice: Comparison to Nav1.8-cre, TRPV1-cre and TRPV1-GFP mouse lines Public Library of Science 2018 Jan;13(6). Mecklenburg J, Patil M, Koek W, Akopian AN. Effects of local and spinal administrations of mu-opioids on postoperative pain in aged vs adult mice Pain Reports 2017 Jan;. Akopian AN, Brackley, AD, Gomez, R, Guerrero, KA, Glucksman, MJ, Du, J, Carlton, SM, Jeske NA. A-Kinase Anchoring Protein 79/150 Scaffolds Transient Receptor Potential A 1 Phosphorylation and Sensitization by Metabotropic Glutamate Receptor Activation Scientific Reports 2017 Jan;7(1). Akopian AN, Fanick ER, Brook EG. TRP channels and traffic-related environmental pollution-induced pulmonary disease Semin Immunopathol 2016 May;38(3):331-338. Patil M,Henry M, Goffin V, Akopian AN. (300) Prolactin regulates sensory neurons in a female-specific manner at their peripheral and central terminals and not at their cell bodies The Journal of Pain 2016 Jan;17(4). Grattan DR, Akopian AN. Oscillating from Neurosecretion to Multitasking Dopamine Neurons Cell Report 2016 Jan;15(4):681-682. Akopian AN et. al. The TRPA1 ion channel is expressed in CD4 T cells and restrains T-cell-mediated colitis through inhibition of TRPV1 Gut 2016 Jan;. Akopian AN. Role of TRP ion channels in physiology and pathology Semin Immunopathol 2016 Jan;38(3):275-276. Green D, Patil M, Akopian AN. Influence of Hypophysectomy, Ovariectomy and Gonadectomy on Postoperative Hypersensitivity in Rats Global Anesthesia and Perioperative Medicine 2016 Jan;2(2):171-175. Green D, Ruparel S, Gao X, Ruparel N, Patil M, Akopian A, Hargreaves K. Central activation of TRPV1 and TRPA1 by novel endogenous agonists contributes to mechanical allodynia and thermal hyperalgesia after burn injury Molecular Pain 2016 Jan;. Brackley AD, Gomez R, Akopian AN, Henry MA, Jeske NA. GRK2 Constitutively Governs Peripheral Delta Opioid Receptor Activity Cell Report 2016 Jan;16(10):2686-2698. Weng H-J, Patel KN, Jeske NA, Bierbower SM, Zou W, Tiari V, Zheng Q, Tang Z, Mo GCH, Wang Y, Geng Y, Zhang J, Guan Y, Akopian AN, Dong X. Tmem100 is a regulator of TRPA1-TRPV1 complex and contributes to persistent pain Neuron 2015 Jan;85:1-14.