George Wilcox, PhD
Professor, Department of Neuroscience
Professor, Department of Neuroscience
Professor, Department of Dermatology
Affiliate Faculty, Institute for Health Informatics (IHI)
Professor, Department of Pharmacology
Neurotransmission of Pain
Dr. Wilcox and colleagues are engaged in research into the spinal neurotransmission of pain and mechanisms underlying hyperalgesia, analgesia and analgesic tolerance. Studies of both excitatory and inhibitory neurotransmission in the rodent spinal cord apply behavioral, electrophysiological (both in vivo and in vitro),immunocytochemical and molecular techniques. Behavioral experiments define biologically relevant interactions, which are then examined at the cellular and molecular level using the more reductionist approaches. A key feature of research projects in this laboratory is open collaboration with laboratories located both here and at other universities.
One major thrust of these investigations examines neurotransmitters thought to mediate major components of excitatory neurotransmission from primary afferent sensory fibers to secondary projection neurons in spinal cord dorsal horn: the excitatory amino acids (EAAs) like glutamate and the neurokinins like substance P. Intense or prolonged excitatory transmission via both these pathways is thought to evoke long term synaptic plasticity and excitotoxicity, which may underlie the development of some chronic pain states.
A second major focus of work in the laboratory is the characterization of several inhibitory neurotransmitters and their receptors which together modulate this excitation. The neurotransmitters, enkephalin, serotonin and noradrenaline, inhibit various components of the incoming excitatory pain message in the dorsal horn via a number of inhibitory receptor subtypes. We are characterizing the interactions between these receptor subtypes and localizing them using transgenic mice, antisense oligonucleotides and immunocytochemical techniques.
Finally, Dr. Wilcox facilitates access for Neuroscience students to high performance computing laboratories on campus - The Laboratory for Computational Science & Engineering and The Minnesota Supercomputer Institute (MSI). High performance computers and visualization are now finding applications in biological imaging, macromolecular modeling and neuronal simulation. A recent neuroscience graduate student developed a new method to optimize correspondence between neuronal simulations and experimental structure-function data.
Waataja, JJ, Peterson, CD, Verma, H, Goracke-Postle, C, Séguéla, P, Delpire, E, Wilcox, GL & Fairbanks, CA 2019, 'Agmatine preferentially antagonizes GluN2B-containing N-methyl-D-aspartate receptors in spinal cord' Journal of neurophysiology, vol. 121, no. 2, pp. 662-671. https://doi.org/10.1152/jn.00172.2018
Doche, I, Wilcox, GL, Ericson, ME, Valente, NS, Romiti, R, McAdams, BD & Hordinsky, MK 2019, 'Evidence for neurogenic inflammation in lichen planopilaris and frontal fibrosing alopecia pathogenic mechanism' Experimental Dermatology. https://doi.org/10.1111/exd.13835
Barney, CC, Tervo, R, Wilcox, GL & Symons, FJ 2017, 'A case-controlled investigation of tactile reactivity in young children with and without global developmental delay' American Journal on Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities, vol. 122, no. 5, pp. 409-421. https://doi.org/10.1352/1944-7558-122.5.409
Barney, CC, Merbler, AM, Quest, K, Byiers, BJ, Wilcox, GL, Schwantes, S, Roiko, SA, Feyma, T, Beisang, A & Symons, FJ 2017, 'A case-controlled comparison of postoperative analgesic dosing between girls with Rett syndrome and girls with and without developmental disability undergoing spinal fusion surgery' Paediatric anaesthesia, vol. 27, no. 3, pp. 290-299. https://doi.org/10.1111/pan.13066
Uhelski, ML, Bruce, DJ, Séguéla, P, Wilcox, GL & Simone, DA 2017, 'In vivo optogenetic activation of Nav1.8+ cutaneous nociceptors and their responses to natural stimuli' Journal of Neurophysiology, vol. 117, no. 6, pp. 2218-2223. https://doi.org/10.1152/jn.00083.2017
Lim, TKY, Anderson, KM, Hari, P, Di Falco, M, Reihsen, TE, Wilcox, GL, Belani, KG, LaBoissiere, S, Pinto, MR, Beebe, DS, Kehl, LJ & Stone, LS 2017, 'Evidence for a Role of Nerve Injury in Painful Intervertebral Disc Degeneration: A Cross-Sectional Proteomic Analysis of Human Cerebrospinal Fluid' Journal of Pain, vol. 18, no. 10, pp. 1253-1269. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jpain.2017.06.002
Peterson, CD, Kitto, KF, Akgun, E, Lunzer, MM, Riedl, MS, Vulchanova, L, Wilcox, GL, Portoghese, PS & Fairbanks, CA 2017, 'Bivalent ligand that activates mu opioid receptor and antagonizes mGluR5 receptor reduces neuropathic pain in mice' Pain, vol. 158, no. 12, pp. 2431-2441. https://doi.org/10.1097/j.pain.0000000000001050
Wilcox, CE, Mayer, AR, Teshiba, TM, Ling, J, Smith, BW, Wilcox, GL & Mullins, PG 2015, 'The Subjective Experience of Pain: An FMRI Study of Percept-Related Models and Functional Connectivity' Pain Medicine (United States), vol. 16, no. 11, pp. 2121-2133. https://doi.org/10.1111/pme.12785
Chabot-Doré, AJ, Millecamps, M, Naso, L, Devost, D, Trieu, P, Piltonen, M, Diatchenko, L, Fairbanks, CA, Wilcox, GL, Hébert, TE & Stone, LS 2015, 'Dual allosteric modulation of opioid antinociceptive potency by ?2A-adrenoceptors' Neuropharmacology, vol. 99, 5956, pp. 285-300. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.neuropharm.2015.08.010
Symons, FJ, Elghazi, I, Reilly, BG, Barney, CC, Hanson, L, Panoskaltsis-Mortari, A, Armitage, IM & Wilcox, GL 2015, 'Can Biomarkers Differentiate Pain and No Pain Subgroups of Nonverbal Children with Cerebral Palsy? A Preliminary Investigation Based on Noninvasive Saliva Sampling' Pain Medicine (United States), vol. 16, no. 2, pp. 249-256. https://doi.org/10.1111/pme.12545
NSCI 4105: Neurobiology Laboratory I (Fall and Summer semesters); NSCI 8221: Neurobiology of Pain and Analgesia (Fall semester)