Susan M. Carlton, PhD Professor Emeritus

CarltonSusan_adjDepartment of Neuroscience, Cell Biology, & Anatomy
2.143 Medical Research Building (MRB) Route: 1069 | Tel: 409-772-1703 | Fax: (409) 762-9382

Education and Training

PhD in Anatomy, Medical College of Virginia, Richmond, VA
Post-Doctoral Fellow, Marine Biomedical Institute, UTMB, Galveston, TX
Post-Doctoral Fellow, Yale University School of Medicine, New Haven, CT
BS in Biology, University of Mary Washington, Fredericksburg, VA

Research Interests

My research activities focus on the analysis of neuroplasticity that underlies chronic pain. In one line of research, we are elucidating those receptors involved in the processing of nociceptive (painful) input in the periphery. Then, using models of inflammation coupled with anatomical, behavioral, pharmacological and electrophysiological techniques, we investigate how these receptor populations change in acute and chronic inflammation. We are particularly interested in the role of ionotropic and metabotropic glutamate receptors as well as somatostatin and TRPV1 receptors which are expressed by cutaneous nociceptors. It is becoming clear that a variety of receptors are present on peripheral axons that influence sensory transduction in the normal state and contribute to enhanced nociceptor function in the inflamed state. Investigating neuronal receptor populations in normal skin and changes in these populations in chronic pain states may elucidate new avenues for therapy for pain of peripheral origin.

A second focus in the lab is the study of mechanisms underlying both peripheral and central neuropathic pain. Using models of peripheral nerve injury or spinal cord contusion, we are defining those mechanisms contributing to the aberrant sensory processing that arises following PNS or CNS injury, respectively. We have demonstrated that a CNS injury (spinal cord contusion) results in sensitization of primary afferents far from the injury site. This finding may have implications for other painful conditions such as fibromyalgia, thalamic post-stroke pain and migraine pain.

Selected Publications

Shi, Y., Yuan, S., Li, B., Wang, J., Carlton, S.M., Chung, K., Chung, J.M. and Tang, S.J. Regulation of Wnt Signaling by Nociceptive Input  in Animal Models. Molecular Pain, 8:47, 2012.

Govea, R., Zhou, S. and Carlton, S.M. Group III metabotropic glutamate receptors and TRPV1 co-localize and interact on nociceptors. Neuroscience, 217: 130-139, 2012.

Cabanero, D., Melyan, Z., Baker, A.., Zhou, S., Hargett, G.,  Xia, Y.,  Beaudry, H., Gendron, L., Carlton, S.M. and Moron, J.A. Pain after discontinuation of morphine treatment is associated with synaptic increase of GluA4-containing AMPAR in the dorsal horn of the spinal cord. Journal of Neuropsychopharmacology, 38:1472-1484, 2013.

Hogan D., Baker A., Moron, J.A. and Carlton, S.M. Systemic morphine treatment induces changes in firing patterns and responses of nociceptive afferent fibers in mouse glabrous skin. Pain, 154: 2297-2309,  2013.

Luo, J., Walters E.T., Carlton, S.M. and Hu, H. Targeting Pain-evoking Transient Receptor Potential Channels for the Treatment of Pain, Current Neuropharmacology,11, 652-663, 2013

Yin, S., Luo, J., Qian, A., Du, J., Yang, Q., Zhou, S., Yu, W., Du, G., Clark, R.B., Walters, E..T, Carlton, S.M. and Hu H. Retinoids activate the irritant receptor TRPV1 and produce sensory hypersensitivity. J Clin Invest. 123:3941-3951, 2013.

Yuan, S.B., Shi, Y., Chen, J., Zhou, X., Li, G., Gelman, B.B., Lisinicchia, J.G., Carlton, S.M., Ferguson M.R., Tan, A., Sarna, S.K. and Tang, S.J. Gp120 in the pathogenesis of human immunodeficiency virus-associated pain. Annals of Neurology 75: 837-850, 2014.

Carlton, S.M. Primary afferent nociceptors: They have a mind of their own. J. Physiology 592:3403-3411, 2014.

Hipolito, L., Wilson-Poe, A., Campos-Jurado, Y., Zhong, E., Gonzalez-Romero, J., Virag, L., Whittington, R., Comer, S.D., Carlton, S.M., Walker, B.M., Bruchas. M.R. and Moron, J.A., Inflammatory pain promotes increased opioid self-administration: Role of dysregulated ventral tegmental area mu opioid receptors. J. Neuroscience 35:12217-12231, 2015.

Szteyn, K., Rowan, M.P., Gomez, R., Du, J., Carlton, S.M. and Jeske, N.A. A-Kinase Anchoring Protein 79/150 Coordinates Metabotropic Glutamate Receptor Sensitization of Peripheral Sensory Neurons. Pain 156: 2364-2372, 2015.

Link to PubMed Publications