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Julie A. Carlsten Christianson, PhD

Associate Professor
Director of Graduate Studies
Director of the Clinician Scientist and Research Track, Dept. of Anesthesiology
Anatomy and Cell Biology

PhD, University of Kansas Medical Center, 2003
Postdoctoral Fellowship, University of Pittsburgh, 2003-2007

Stress and pain have an intimate and reciprocal relationship with one another. When experienced acutely, stress can diminish the perception of pain, allowing for sometimes life-saving actions. Conversely, when experienced chronically, stress can increase the perception of pain and exacerbate ongoing symptoms associated with chronic pain states. In particular, stress experienced early in life can have a permanent impact on how pain is perceived and increase overall morbidity. The focus of my laboratory is to understand how stress experienced across the lifespan affects pain processing both in the central nervous system and out in the periphery. We use mouse models of early life stress or insult to study changes within limbic structures, using molecular and imaging technology, that regulate both the stress response system and downstream modulation of incoming pain signals. We use pharmacological and lifestyle interventions, to either improve or exacerbate comorbid outcomes of early life stress, including urogenital hypersensitivity, anhedonic behaviors, and metabolic disorder. Our overall goal is to identify key mechanisms underlying these stress-induced outcomes as a means of identifying potential therapeutic targets for translation into a clinical setting.

Full NCBI bibliography can be found here. 

Selected publications

Pierce AN, Eller-Smith OC, Christianson JA. (2018) Voluntary wheel running attenuates urinary bladder hypersensitivity and dysfunction following neonatal maternal separation in female mice. Neurourol Urodyn. 37:1623-1632.

Eller-Smith OC, Nicol AL, Christianson JA. (2018) Potential Mechanisms Underlying Centralized Pain and Emerging Therapeutic Interventions. Front Cell Neurosci. 12:35.

Fuentes IM, Christianson JA. (2018) The Influence of Early Life Experience on Visceral Pain. Front Syst Neurosci. 12:2.

Fuentes IM, Pierce AN, Di Silvestro ER, Maloney MO, Christianson JA. (2018) Differential Influence of Early Life and Adult Stress on Urogenital Sensitivity and Function in Male Mice. Front Syst Neurosci. 11:97.

Fuentes IM, Christianson JA. (2016) Ion channels, ion channel receptors, and visceral hypersensitivity in irritable bowel syndrome. Neurogastroenterology & Motility. 28:1613-1618.

Fuentes IM, Walker NK, Pierce AN, Holt BR, Di Silvestro ER, Christianson JA. (2016) Neonatal maternal separation increases susceptibility to experimental colitis and acute stress exposure in male mice. IBRO Rep. 1:10-18.

Pierce AN, Di Silvestro ER, Eller OC, Wang R, Ryals JM, Christianson JA. (2016) Urinary bladder hypersensitivity and dysfunction in female mice following early life and adult stress. Brain Res. 1639:58-73.

Fuentes IM, Pierce AN, O'Neil PT, Christianson JA. (2015) Assessment of Perigenital Sensitivity and Prostatic Mast Cell Activation in a Mouse Model of Neonatal Maternal Separation. J Vis Exp.e53181.

Pierce AN, Zhang Z, Fuentes IM, Wang R, Ryals JM, Christianson JA. (2015) Neonatal vaginal irritation results in long-term visceral and somatic hypersensitivity and increased hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal axis output in female mice. Pain. 156:2021-31.

Pierce AN, Ryals JM, Wang R, Christianson JA. (2014) Vaginal hypersensitivity and hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal axis dysfunction as a result of neonatal maternal separation in female mice. Neuroscience. 263:216-30.

Malin S, Molliver D, Christianson JA, Schwartz ES, Cornuet P, Albers KM, Davis BM. (2011) TRPV1 and TRPA1 Function and Modulation Are Target Tissue Dependent. J Neurosci. 31:10516-28.

Christianson JA, Bielefeldt K, Malin SA, Davis BM. (2010) Neonatal colon insult alters growth factor expression and TRPA1 responses in adult mice. Pain. 151:540-9.    

Last modified: Dec 27, 2018


Julie A. Carlsten Christianson, PhD
Associate Professor
Director of Graduate Studies
Director of the Clinician Scientist and Research Track, Dept. of Anesthesiology