Opiates and Pain Research

Alexander E. Kalyuzhny, Ph.D., Research Assistant Professor

affiliated with Department of Neuroscience

Alex's PhotoOpioid analgesics are currently the first choice drugs for the treatment of pain. Although opioid analgesics have been found to produce antinociception through interaction with pharmacologically distinct G protein-coupled mu-, delta- and kappa-opioid receptors, the mechanism underlying the function of these receptors is not fully understood. For example, a fundamental question remains regarding the functional relevance of heteromeric mu/delta and mu/kappa-opioid receptors.   

My research interests are focused on investigating the mechanisms underlying constitutive and induced heteromerization of opioid receptors using double-transfected HEK-293 cells as a model, as well as primary sensory neurons isolated from the dorsal root ganglia and cultured in vitro.  The study is aimed at determining how opioid receptors form mu/delta- and mu/kappa heteromers as well as at investigating heteromerization of opioid receptors with non-opioid ones, including chemokine CCR5 and CXCR4, and glutamate mGluR5 receptors. In addition, studies are done to reveal the effects of ligands with dual agonist/antagonist activity on receptor trafficking and heteromerization using advanced multi-color fluorescence immunocytochemistry, confocal microscopy, and image analysis techniques. These studies will shed light on the function of opioid receptors and will also help to clarify the role of chemokine and glutamate receptors in modulating the antinociceptive activity of opioid analgesics. 

 

    Memberships in professional societies:

  • The Society for Neuroscience
  • Society for Histotechnology
  • Histochemical Society