Seminar: Dr. Asaf Keller, University of Maryland Baltimore
Title: The Parabrachial Complex: A Nexus of Ascending and Descending Pain Systems
Speaker: Dr. Asaf Keller, University of Maryland Baltimore School of Medicine
Abstract: The most common and debilitating medical condition is chronic, intractable pain. Most patients complain of spontaneous, ongoing pain, as well as an increased sensation to both painful and normally non-painful stimuli. Available treatments produce either incomplete and temporary pain relief, or adverse side effects. The talk will be based on new findings, showing that the parabrachial nucleus, a relatively unknown center of pain processing, plays a critical role in the development of chronic pain. We test the hypothesis that chronic, neuropathic pain results from abnormally amplified activity of the parabrachial nucleus, and that this produces abnormal release of serotonin from neurons that the parabrachial targets. The increase in serotonin, then, causes abnormally high levels of activity of neurons in the spinal cord, resulting in increased pain perception. These findings provide novel insights on the pathogenesis of chronic pain.