Research Interests

The primary focus of the Saloman lab is peripheral mechanisms of pain. The major themes currently pursued are derived from a growing body of evidence indicating that peripheral neuron signaling mechanisms contribute to the prognosis, response to therapy, and pain associated with complex disorders such as cancer and chronic inflammatory diseases. Cross-talk between the nervous and immune system is critical for the regulation of homeostasis as well as body’s response to trauma or infection, Within this context, ongoing projects are focused on: 1) sensory neuron signaling during homeostasis and nerve injury 2) pancreatitis, 3) pancreatic cancer, 4) cancer or treatment related pain, and 5) neuro-immune mechanisms that contribute to pathogenesis. Many of the specific questions addressed in our pre-clinical models and human data are derived from clinical observations, where the lab ongoing collaborations with clinicians enabling comparative analysis of pre-clinical models and patients.

Pancreatitis

Pancreatitis is a debilitating disease characterized by a high incidence of abdominal pain. While it classically considered an inflammatory disease over one quarter of patients also exhibit neuropathic signs and symptoms. Less than one-third of patients achieve relief with currently available analgesics and pain-relieving interventions. Utilizing both classical animal models of pancreatitis as well as novel optogenetic model of pancreas pain, we are investigating the signaling mechanisms that contribute to these specific sub-types of pain within the context of pancreatic disease.

In collaboration with the Clinical Pancreas Research Team, this line of investigation has recently been expanded to include patient reported pain data, assessment of biological specimens, and quantitative sensory testing.

Human pancreas tumor exhibits close association between intratumoral nerve axons (red) and B  and T lymphocytes, (green and yellow, respectively)

Click image to enlarge.

Cancer

Clinically, several tumor types are associated with significant sprouting and hypertrophy of peripheral axons resulting in more innervation than that found in the normal healthy organ. Furthermore, the extent of pain and sensorimotor deficits is associated with penetration of the nerves by tumor and immune cells, a phenomenon called perineural invasion. This study involves investigated mechanisms associated with this neuroplasticity in animal models and human tumor tissues. Given that the tumor microenvironment often has a significant immune infiltration characterized by a suppressive phenotype we have expanded this line of investigation to understand how peripheral neurons regulate tumor immune profiles.

Human pancreas tumor exhibits close association between intratumoral nerve axons (red) and B and T lymphocytes, (green and yellow, respectively)

Cancer

Clinically, several tumor types are associated with significant sprouting and hypertrophy of peripheral axons resulting in more innervation than that found in the normal healthy organ. Furthermore, the extent of pain and sensorimotor deficits is associated with penetration of the nerves by tumor and immune cells, a phenomenon called perineural invasion. This study involves investigated mechanisms associated with this neuroplasticity in animal models and human tumor tissues. Given that the tumor microenvironment often has a significant immune infiltration characterized by a suppressive phenotype we have expanded this line of investigation to understand how peripheral neurons regulate tumor immune profiles.