M.A. University of Texas at Austin, 1976
Ph.D. University of Texas Medical Branch, 1981
Our studies are designed to understand (1) how sensitization of pain pathways can lead to persistent pain states and (2) how inflammatory pain can be alleviated. In response to tissue injury and pain, an amplified neurogenic drive is generated in the spinal cord dorsal horn. Nerve impulses then propagate back out to the peripheral injury site bringing neurotransmitter signals that directly impact inflammatory responses. Three neuroinflammatory models are being utilized to examine neurotransmitter activation and to promote reduction of inflammation and pain: (1) temporomandibular joint pain, (2) inflammatory pain in the knee joint, and (3) a model of visceral pain resembling chronic human pancreatitis. Treatment strategies, such as gene therapy and transdermal delivery of opioid peptides for site specific anti-nociceptive action, are being utilized to stop the activation caused by neurotransmitters for both the pancreatitis and muscle/joint inflammatory models. Information about the interface between the nervous system and the immune system is being generated, including the potential for tissue repair promoted by opioid peptides. Our investigations have led to discovery of a new visceral pain pathway and a new acid sensing G-coupled receptor in the knee joint lining. We are also developing new strategies for the treatment of chronic pain, inflammation and tissue repair after injury.
NIH RO1 NS39041-14 (Westlund, PI) “Neurogenic Amplification of Pancreatitis Pain” (04/01/00 - 06/30/16)
VA Merit BX002695 (Westlund, PI) "Peripheral and Central Pain Generators of Chronic Trigeminal Neuropathic Pain" (12/2015 - 12/2019)
McIlwrath SL, Westlund KN. Pharmacological attenuation of chronic alcoholic pancreatitis induced hypersensitivity in rats. World J Gastroenterol 21(3): 836-853, 2015. PMID: 25624717
Lyons DN, Kniffin TC, Zhang L, Danaher RJ, Miller CS, Bocanegra JL, Carlson CR, Westlund KN. Induced Facial Pain, Anxiety- and Depression- Related Behaviors Associated with Trigeminal Inflammatory Compression (TIC) Injury. Neuroscience 295:126-38, 2015. PMID: 25818051
Westlund KN, Zhang LP, Ma F, Nesemeier R, Ruiz JC, Ostertag EM, Crawford JS, Babinski K, Marcinkiewicz MM. A rat knockout model implicates TRPC4 in visceral pain sensation. Neuroscience, 262:165-175, 2014. PMID: 24388923
Zhang L, Kline RH 4th, McNearney TA, Johnson MP, Westlund KN. Cannabinoid receptor 2 agonist attenuates pain related behavior in rats with chronic alcohol/high fat diet induced pancreatitis. Mol Pain. 10:66, 2014. PMID: 25403433
Ma F, Zhang L, Lyons D, Westlund KN.Orofacial neuropathic pain mouse model induced by Trigeminal Inflammatory Compression (TIC) of the infraorbital nerve. Mol Brain 5(1):44, 2012. PMID: 23270529
Westlund KN, Zhang L, Ma F, Oz HS. Chronic inflammation and pain in a tumor necrosis factor receptor (TNFR) (p55/p75-/-) dual deficient murine model. Transl Res. 160(1):84-94, 2012. PMID: 22687964
Westlund, KN and Vera-Portocarrero, LP. Rat Models of Pancreatitis Pain. Methods in Molecular Biology 851: 223-38, 2012. PMID: 22351095
Westlund KN. Gene Therapy Approach: HSV-Enkephalin Reduces Fibrosis, Inflammation, and Pain, Chronic Pancreatitis, David Sutherland (Ed.), 2012. ISBN: 978-953-51-0011-9, Available from InTech: http://www.intechopen.com/articles/show/title/gene-therapy-approach-hsv-enkephalin-reduces-fibrosis-inflammation-and-pain
Westlund, K.N. and Willis, W.D., Ch. 33 Pain System. In: THE HUMAN NERVOUS SYSTEM, Third Edition, J. Mai and G. Paxinos (ed.). Elsevier, Amsterdam, 2011.
Westlund KN, Kochukov MY, Lu Y and McNearney TA. Impact of central and peripheral TRPV1 and ROS levels on proinflammatory mediators and nociceptive behavior. Molecular Pain 6:46, 2010. PMID: 20691059