Julie A. Carlsten Christianson, Ph.D.

Assistant Professor
Department of Anatomy and Cell Biology

Ph.D., University of Kansas Medical Center, 2003
Postdoctoral, University of Pittsburgh, 2003-2007

Chronic pelvic pain encompasses a number of debilitating syndromes and is the most common indication for referral to women's health specialists. A history of early adverse events including injury, infection, neglect or abuse is prevalent among chronic pelvic pain patients and up to 80% present with symptoms of more than one syndrome. Our long-term goal is to determine how the nervous system is manipulated by early adverse events to produce long-term pain in directly affected and adjacent pelvic organs. We have developed pre-clinical models of colonic and vaginal hypersensitivity through neonatal maternal separation or neonatal organ irritation in mice. Mice that received intracolonic mustard oil as neonates have an increase in the percentage of colon-specific sensory neurons that express the transient receptor potential channel ankyrin 1 (TRPA1), which is required for normal viscerosensory function. We are currently investigating whether neonatal vaginal irritation or stress caused from maternal separation will produce a similar effect, as well as the signaling cascades involved, with the ultimate goal of identifying and validating potential targets for therapeutic intervention in the treatment of chronic pelvic pain.

Selected Publications

Christianson JA, Traub RJ, Davis BM. Differences in spinal distribution and neurochemical phenotype of colonic afferents in mouse and rat.  J Comp Neurol 2006; 494(2):246-59.

Christianson JA, McIlwrath SL, Koerber HR, Davis BM. Transient receptor potential vanilloid 1-immunopositive neurons in the mouse are more prevalent within colon afferents compared to skin and muscle afferents. Neuroscience 2006; 140(1):247-57.

Christianson JA, Liang R, Ustinova EE, Davis BM, Fraser MO, Pezzone MA. Convergence of bladder and colon sensory innervation occurs at the primary afferent level.  Pain 2007; 128(3):235-43.

Christianson JA, Gebhart GF. Assessment of colon sensitivity by luminal distension in mice. Nat Protoc 2007; 2(10): 2624-31.

Fasanella* KE, Christianson* JA, Chanthaphavong RS, Davis BM. Distribution and neurochemical identification of pancreatic afferents in the mouse. J Comp Neurol. 2008; 509(1): 42-52.

Malin SA, Christianson JA, Bielefeldt K, Davis BM. TRPV1 expression defines functionally distinct pelvic colon afferents. J Neurosci. 2009; 29(3): 743-752.

Christianson JA, Bielefeldt K, Altier C, Cenac N, Davis BM, Gebhart GF, High KW, Kollarik M, Randich A, Undem B, Vergnolle N. Development, plasticity and modulation of visceral afferents. Brain Res. Rev. 2009; 60(1):171-186.

Christianson JA, Bielefeldt K, Malin SA, Davis BM. Neonatal colon insult alters growth factor expression and modulates TRPA1 responses in adult mice.  Pain. 2010; 151(2): 540-549.

Schwartz ES, Christianson JA, Chen X, La J-H, Davis BM, Albers KM, Gebhart GF. Synergistic Role of TRPV1 and TRPA1 in pancreatic pain and inflammation.  Gastroenterology. 2010; 140(4):1283-1291.

Malin SA, Molliver DC, Christianson JA, Schwartz ES, Cornuet PA, Albers KM, Davis BM. TRPV1 and TRPA1 function and modulation are target tissue dependent. J. Neurosci. 2011; 31(29):10516-10528.

Last modified: Jun 29, 2017


Julie A. Carlsten Christianson, Ph.D.
Assistant Professor