I am interested in understanding how spinal dorsal horn circuits encode pain information. In fact, an aberrant processing of sensory information at the spinal cord level is observed in pathological pain states such as allodynia and hyperalgesia and is thought to occur through and alteration in inhibitory, GABAergic and glycinergic, control. While many studies have focused on the role of phasic inhibition, mediated by synaptic GABA and glycine receptors, dorsal horn cells also express extrasynaptic inhibitory receptors and the tonic inhibition mediated by these receptors has been less addressed. For my ongoing research, I am studying tonic inhibition mediated by extrasynaptic GABAA receptors that contain α5-receptor subunits. These receptors have been found to modulate neuronal excitability in the hippocampus and cerebellum and could be involved in the loss of inhibition during neuropathic pain.
Recent publications from the YDK lab are listed here