Translational studies in pain chronicity
Role of corticothalamostriatal pathway in stress-sensitisation and comorbidity development
The aim of this study is to investigate the role of brain plasticity for developing comorbidities of chronic pain e.g. depression and anxiety. Comorbid depression and anxiety are major challenges of chronic pain treatments, especially in women with early adversities. However, causal brain mechanisms are still poorly understood. With the help of our human-rodent-tandem study we want to understand the role of limbic projections of the paraventricular thalamus for developing comorbid anxiodepressive symptoms in chronic pain. We combine imaging techniques (MRI), genetic analyses, neuropsychological tests, questionnaires and innovative m-health technology, i.e. mobile technology, to identify under real everyday conditions the factors that affect the relationship between chronic pain and depression/anxiety. In animal experiments, we combine state-of-the-art functional circuit investigations e.g. electrophysiology, fiber photometry, opto-/chemogenetics with complex behavioral investigations in a mouse model of early adversity and chronic neuropathic pain. Hence, we aim to develop novel therapeutic options for patients with chronic pain and psychiatric disorders.