Kenneth E McCarson, PhD
Director, PreClinical Models Core (PMC), and Director, KUMC Rodent Behavior Facility/Disease Model and Assessment Services, Kansas Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities Research Center (KIDDRC)
Ph.D., Medical College of Georgia, 1991
Postdoctoral Fellow, Washington University 1995
Pain Mechanisms, G-Protein Coupled Receptor Function, Modeling Genetic Diseases
My primary research interests are in the areas of pain neurobiology, tachykinin/neurokinin systems, estrogens and pain, and CNS plasticity. My research program generally examines the role that gene expression of various neurotransmitters and their receptors plays in the regulation of sensory function, and particularly focuses of the role of neurokinin (NK-1) receptors in chronic inflammatory pain. My major publications describe the expression, coupling and trafficking of these receptors and addressing how their plasticity contributes to central sensitization and hyperalgesia that lead to chronic pain. Important branches from this primary focus have led my research program into varied areas such as the regulation of affect (or mood) by pain, sex differences in pain sensation, and the role of neurokinins in cutaneous wound healing.
As Director of the Kansas Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities Research Center PreClinical Models Core and the KUMC Rodent Behavior Core Facility, I also contribute to several exciting projects that require detailed behavioral assessment of rats or mice. One project requires detailed analysis of gait and motor function in a rat model of spinal cord injury to assess the impact of therapeutic interventions based on neural progenitor cells or brain-machine interface devices. Another focuses on rodent behavioral models of migraine headache, which is much more prevalent in women than men. Our migraine model has allowed us to investigate the effects of environmental estrogens that can worsen migraine frequency or severity. Several other collaborative projects focus on the development of a digenic mutant mouse model of Tourette Syndrome, and of undiagnosed genetic diseases that lead to intellectual or developmental disorders in humans.
McCarson, K.E., and Krause, J.E. NK-1 and NK-3 type tachykinin receptor mRNA expression in the rat spinal cord dorsal horn is increased during adjuvant or formalin-induced nociception. Journal of Neuroscience, 14 (1994) 712-720. PMID: 830135919.
Duric, V. and McCarson, K.E. Persistent pain produces stress-like alterations in hippocampal neurogenesis and gene expression. Journal of Pain 7 (2006) 544-555. PMID: 16885011
Rook, J.M., Hasan, W., and McCarson, K.E. Temporal effects of topical morphine application on cutaneous wound healing. Anesthesiology 109(2008)130-136. PMID: 18580183
McCarson, K. E. How to Become a ‘Rat Whisperer’ — 7 Tips on Handling Lab Rodents. Laboratory Animal Welfare Compliance 1(2010) 13-15.
Gupta, S., McCarson, K.E., Welch, K.M.A., and Berman, N.E.J. Mechanisms of pain modulation by sex hormones in migraine. Headache 51 (2011) 905-922. PMID: 21631476.
Corder, G., Doolen, S., Donahue, R.R., Winter, M.K., Jutras, B.L., He, Y., Hu, X., Wieskopf, J.S., Mogil, J.S., Storm, D.R., Wang, Z.J., McCarson, K.E., and Taylor, B.K. Constitutive μ-opioid receptor activity leads to long-term endogenous analgesia and dependence. Science. 341  (2013) 1394-1399. PMID: 24052307 (Cover Article)
Krizsan-Agbas D, Winter MK, Eggimann LS, Meriwether J, Berman NE, Smith PG, McCarson KE. Gait analysis at multiple speeds reveals differential functional and structural outcomes in response to graded spinal cord injury. J Neurotrauma. 2014 May 1;31(9):846-56. PMID: 24405378
McCarson KE, Enna SJ. GABA Pharmacology: The Search for Analgesics. Neurochem Res. 2014 Oct;39(10):1948-63. PMID: 24532294
Vermeer LM, Gregory E, Winter MK, McCarson KE, Berman NE. Behavioral effects and mechanisms of migraine pathogenesis following estradiol exposure in a multibehavioral model of migraine in rat. Exp Neurol. 2014 Sep 25. pii: S0014-4886(14)00294-5. PMID: 25263582
McCarson, K.E., Winter, M.K., Abrahamson, D.R., Berman, N.E., and Smith, P.G. Assessing complex movement behaviors in rodent models of neurological disorders. Neurobiology of Learning and Memory (2018) Feb 21. pii: S1074-7427(18)30045-5. PMID: 29476821 PMCID: PMC6103896.