Pain Neurobiology Laboratory

The Pain Neurobiology Laboratory, (Director: Dr. Anand, Lab Manager: Cynthia Rovnaghi), is focused on translational research on the developmental, neurobiological and behavioral effects of neonatal pain.

Rodent in vivo models designed in this laboratory investigate the outcomes of neonates exposed to inflammatory pain or maternal stress. We discovered that repetitive pain induces brain cell death (NMDA receptor-mediated excitotoxicity) during critical periods of development, leading to the long-term cognitive/behavioral effects of pain. The pattern and magnitude of cellular changes depend on genetic variability as well as the timing, intensity, and duration of adverse environmental experiences.

We now examine the role of analgesia (ketamine, morphine) and alternative approaches like acupuncture or environmental enrichment to ameliorate these effects. Rodent in vitro studies with neuronal progenitor stem cells investigate the cellular mechanisms of neurotoxicity, associated with high analgesic doses. In vivo and in vitro studies are conducted side-by-side to detect patterns and types of cellular death, and their underlying mechanisms.

Thus, converging lines of investigation, including clinical studies and neuroscience research, are focused on investigating the role and mechanisms of neuronal cell death caused by repetitive or prolonged pain. These changes may help to explain the behavioral abnormalities and poor cognitive outcomes occurring in children who were born premature.

The Pain Neurobiology Laboratory is an integral part of the UT Neuroscience Institute.

Recent Publications

  1. Bhutta AT, Anand KJS et al. Ketamine as a neuroprotective and anti-inflammatory agent in children undergoing surgery on cardiopulmonary bypass: A randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled pilot trial. Pediatric Critical Care Medicine (in press), 2010.
  2. Rovnaghi CR, Garg S, Hall RW, Bhutta AT, Anand KJS. Ketamine analgesia for inflammatory pain in neonatal rats: a factorial randomized trial examining long-term effects. Behavioral & Brain Functions 4:35, 2008.
  3. Anand KJS, Garg S, Rovnaghi CR, Narsinghani U, Bhutta AT, Hall RW. Ketamine reduces the cell death following inflammatory pain in newborn rat brain. Pediatric Research 62(3): 283-290, 2007.
  4. Anand KJS. Anesthetic neurotoxicity in newborns: Should we change clinical practice? Anesthesiology 107(1): 2-4, 2007.
  5. Bhutta AT, Venkatesan AK, Rovnaghi CR, Anand KJS. Anaesthetic neurotoxicity in rodents: is the Ketamine controversy real? Acta Paediatrica 96(11): 1553-1555, 2007.
  6. Hall RW, Huitt TW, Thapa R, Williams DK, Anand KJS, Garcia-Rill E. Long-term deficits of preterm birth: evidence for arousal and attentional disturbances. Clinical Neurophysiology 119(6): 1281-1291, 2008.
  7. Clancy B, Finlay BL, Darlington RB, Anand KJS. Extrapolating brain development from experimental species to humans. Neurotoxicology 28(5): 931-7, 2007.

Contact Us

Department of Pediatrics

Critical Care Division

LeBonheur Children's Hospital
Children's Foundation
Research Center
50 N Dunlap, 3rd Floor
Memphis, TN 38103
Phone: 901-287-6303