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Integrative Physiological Systems and Pain Core

Scott Rawls, Core Director (
Lynn Kirby, Co-Investigator
Ellen Walker, Co-Investigator
Eugen Brailoiu, Co-Investigator
Saadet Inan, Co-Investigator

The Integrated Physiological Systems and Pain (IPSP) Core offers pharmacological testing for the following endpoints in mice and/or rats:

  • Analgesic/tolerance tests for acute, persistent, incisional, and neuropathic pain
  • Opioid physical dependence and withdrawal
  • Respiratory function including respiratory rate, oxygen capacity, and heart rate
  • Anti-inflammatory (carrageenan test) and antipruritic activity
  • Body temperature measurement
  • Gastrointestinal function including stomach emptying and intestinal transit
  • Electrophysiological analysis using in vivo extracellular single-unit recording, in vitro whole-cell patch-clamp techniques, and field potential recordings to assess long-term synaptic plasticity
  • In vivo microdialysis for sampling of neurotransmitters and neuropeptides from specific brain regions of conscious animals
  • HPLC analysis of amino acids (fluorescence) and biogenic amines (electrochemical)
  • Rotarod assay to evaluate motor coordination, balance, and grip strength and to screen experimental drugs for motor impairment
  • Drug-combination analysis and database (PDF)
  • Measurement of in vivo neuronal activity in freely moving rats with the Doric miniscope (miniaturized fluorescence microscopy using calcium-imaging)
  • Neuroprotective efficacy of experimental compounds in a chemotherapy-induced neuropathic pain (CINP) model
  • Respiratory function (respiratory rate, oxygen capacity) following exposure to opioids

Major areas of research emphasis include investigation of the following topics: (1) opioids, especially in the context of separating therapeutic (e.g. analgesic) and adverse (e.g. dependence, tolerance, respiratory depression, constipation) effects; (2) HIV and substance abuse crosstalk in animal models, especially as related to how psychostimulant and opioid exposure impacts HIV Infectivity, replication, and latency and how HIV infection impacts opioid dependence and analgesia; and (3) interplay between neuroimmune and brain reward systems, especially in the context of identifying and characterizing neuroimmune biomarkers (e.g. chemokines, cytokines) of drug addiction and investigating neuroimmune-based therapeutic approaches for substance abuse. Additional focus is placed on supporting drug discovery projects with high translational potential.