Jun-Ho La, PhD, DVM Assistant Professor

LaJunHo_adjDepartment of Neuroscience, Cell Biology, & Anatomy
Room 2.143E Medical Research Building (MRB)
Route: 1069 | Tel: (409) 772-6707 | Fax: (409) 762-9382 | jula@utmb.edu

Education and Training

DVM in Veterinary Medicine, Seoul National University, Seoul, S. Korea PhD in Veterinary Physiology, Seoul National University, Seoul, S. Korea Post-Doctoral, Gyeongsang National University, Jinju, S. Korea Post-Doctoral, University of Pittsburgh, Pittsburgh, PA MS in Veterinary Physiology, Seoul National University, Seoul, S. Korea

Research Interests

I have a long-standing research interest in chronic pain and developing therapeutic tools to manage this debilitating condition. There is growing appreciation that changes in synaptic strength are associated with chronic pain, and primary afferent input contributes to the dynamic synaptic plasticity. This has been readily demonstrated in neuropathic pain patients and algogenic irritants-injected healthy subjects by experimentally blocking peripheral nerve activity in the primary painful foci, which rapidly abolishes tactile allodynia in the area remote from the primary foci. Accordingly, I am currently studying the underlying mechanisms of this dynamic synaptic plasticity between primary afferent neurons and spinal cord neurons with electrophysiological, immunohistochemical, and optogenetic approaches.

I have also studied chronic visceral pain associated with inflammatory bowel diseases as well as functional bowel disorders. Visceral organs are innervated by at least two different sensory pathways (e.g., vagal and splanchnic nerve pathways for upper visceral organs, and lumbar splanchnic and pelvic nerve pathways for lower pelvic organs), and my work has contributed to understanding of the characteristics of these different sensory pathways by, for example, examining their ion channel expression and electrophysiological properties. In addition, my research goal to identify potential therapeutic targets led me to development and characterization of animal models of visceral pain, and discoveries of important roles of two-pore domain K+ (K2P) channels in primary afferent neurons and condition-specific involvement of colonic inflammatory molecules in visceral hypersensitivity.

Selected Publications

La, J.H., Schwartz, E.S. and Gebhart, G.F. Differences in the expression of transient receptor potential channel V1, transient receptor potential channel A1 and mechanosensitive two pore-domain K+ channels between the lumbar splanchnic and pelvic nerve innervations of mouse urinary bladder and colon. Neuroscience. 186:179-87. 2011.

La, J.H. and Gebhart, G.F. Colitis decreases mechanosensitive K2P channel expression and function in mouse colon sensory neurons. Am J Physiol Gastrointest Liver Physiol. 301:G165-74. 2011.

Feng, B., La, J.H., Tanaka, T., Schwartz, E.S., McMurray, T.P. and Gebhart, G.F. Altered colorectal afferent function associated with TNBS-induced visceral hypersensitivity in mice. Am J Physiol Gastrointest Liver Physiol. 303:G817-G824, 2012.

Feng, B., La, J.H., Schwartz, E.S. and Gebhart, G.F. Neural and neuro-immune mechanisms of visceral hypersensitivity in irritable bowel syndrome. Am J Physiol Gastrointest Liver Physiol. 302:G1085-98. 2012.

La, J.H., Feng, B., Schwartz, E.S., Brumovsky, P.R. and Gebhart, G.F. Luminal hypertonicity and acidity modulate colorectal afferents and induce persistent visceral hypersensitivity. Am J Physiol Gastrointest Liver Physiol. 303:G802-G809, 2012.

Schwartz, E.S., La, J.H., Davis, B.M., Albers, K.M. and Gebhart, G.F. TRPV1 and TRPA1 antagonists prevent the transition of recurrent acute pancreatitis to chronic pancreatitis. J. Neurosci. 33:5603-5612, 2013.

La, J.H. and Gebhart, G.F. Condition-specific role of colonic inflammatory molecules in persistent functional colorectal hypersensitivity in the mouse. Neurogastroenterol Motil. 26(12):1730-1742, 2014.

Feng, B., Zhu, Y., La, J.H. and Gebhart GF. Experimental and computational evidence for an essential role of NaV1.6 in spike initiation at stretch-sensitive colorectal afferent endings. J Neurophysiol. 113(7):2618-2634, 2015.

Schwartz, E.S., Xie, A., La, J.H. and Gebhart GF. Nociceptive and Inflammatory Mediator Upregulation in a Mouse Model of Chronic Prostatitis. PAIN. 156(8):1537-1544, 2015.

La, J.H., Feng, B., Kaji, K., Schwartz, E.S. and Gebhart GF. Roles of isolectin B4-binding afferents in colorectal mechanical nociception. PAIN. 157(2):348-354. 2016.

Link to PubMed Publications