Alan Light

Research Professor of Anesthesiology

Cellular Neuroscience
Neurobiology of Disease
Molecular Neuroscience
Brain and Behavior
B.A. 1972, Hamilton College; Ph.D. 1977, SUNY at Upstate Medical Center; Postdoctoral Fellow 1977-1979, UNC-Chapel Hill


Neurobiology of pain and fatigue enhancement caused by injury and in Chronic Fatigue and Fibromyalgia syndromes

Dr. Light's lab focuses on the neurobiology of pain pathways. Most recently research projects include: 1) the role of the recently cloned Acid Sensing Ion Channels (ASICs) in muscle fatigue and pain. Research in Dr. Light's lab has shown that ASIC-3 expression is increased following exhausting exercise, and that C-fibers innervating muscle are responsive to the mixture of metabolites that are produced by exercise. These metabolites activate a combination of purinergic (P2X), TRPV, and ASIC receptors to produce their actions. 2) experiments in patients with Fibromyalgia and Chronic Fatigue syndromes indicate that the receptors described above are dysregulated, and may provide the basis for the symptoms in these syndromes. 3) quantitative mRNA experiments suggest that the above receptors can be used as an objective marker for these and other fatigue related syndromes. 4) exercise experiments in humans indicate that the receptors described above also play a role in detecting fatigue and muscle pain both acutely, and in inflammatory and exercise induced fatigue and muscle pain.

Selected Publications:

Iacob, E., Light, A.R., Donaldson, G.W., Okifuji, A., Hughen, R.W., White, A.T., and Light, K.C. (2016) Gene expression factor analysis to differentiate pathways linked to fibromyalgia, chronic fatigue syndrome, and depression in a diverse patient sample. Arthritis Care Res (Hoboken), Jan;68(1):132-40. doi: 10.1002/acr.22639. PMID: 26097208

VanHaitsma, T.A., Light, A.R., Light, K.C., Hughen, R.W., Yenchik, S., and White, A.T. (2015) Fatigue sensation and gene expression in trained cyclists following a 40 km time trial in the heat. Eur J Appl Physiol, Dec 24. [Epub ahead of print] PMID: 26705248

Pollak, K.A., Swenson, J.D., Vanhaitsma, T.A., Hughen, R.W., Jo, D., Light, K.C., Schweinhardt, P., Amann, M., and Light, A.R. (2014) Exogenously Applied Muscle Metabolites Synergistically Evoke Sensations of Muscle Fatigue and Pain in Human Subjects. Exp Physiol, 99:368-380 Epub Oct 18 DOI: 10.1113/expphysiol.2013.075812

Light, K.C., Agarwal, N., Iacob, E., White, A.T., Kinney, A.Y., Vanhaitsma, T.A., Aizad, H., Hughen, R.W., Bateman, L., and Light, A.R. (2013) Differing leukocyte gene expression profiles associated with fatigue in patients with prostate cancer versus chronic fatigue syndrome. Psychoneuroendocrinology, Sep 6. doi:pii: S0306-4530(13)00297-7. 10.1016/j.psyneuen.2013.08.008 [Epub ahead of print]

Weeks, H.R. III, Tadler, S.C., Smith, K.W., Iacob, E., Saccoman, M., White, A.T., Landvatter, J.D., Chelune, G.J., Suchy, Y., Michael, E.C., Cahalan, M.K., Bushnell, L., Sakata, D., Light, A.R., Light, K.C. (2013) Antidepressant and Neurocognitive Effects of Isoflurane Anesthesia versus Electroconvulsive Therapy in Refractory Depression. PLoS ONE, 8(7): e69809.

Light, A.R. Vierck, C.J., and Light, K.C. (2010) Chapter 11: Myalgia and Fatigue—Translation from Mouse Sensory Neurons to Fibromyalgia and Chronic Fatigue Syndromes In: Translational Pain Research – From Mouse to Man, Lawrence Kruger and Alan Light, editors; Taylor and Francis.

Light, A.R. (2010) What is this thing "fatigue" anyway? J Appl Physiol, Feb;108(2):464-465.

Li, K., Fu, K.Y., Light, A.R., and Mao, J. (2010) Systemic minocycline differentially influences changes in spinal microglial markers following formalin-induced nociception. J Neuroimmunol, Mar 3. [Epub ahead of print]

White, A.T., Light, A.R., Hughen, R.W., Bateman, L., Martins, T.B., Hill, H.R., and Light, K.C. (2010) Severity of symptom flare after moderate exercise is linked to cytokine activity in chronic fatigue syndrome. Psychophysiology, 1–10.

Coryell, M.W., Wunsch, A.M., Haenfler, J.M., Allen, J.E., Schnizler, M., Ziemann, A.E., Cook, M.N., Dunning, J.P., Price, M.P., Rainier, J.D., Liu, Z., Light, A.R., Langbehn, D.R., and Wemmie, J.A. (2009) Acid-sensing ion channel-1a in the amygdala, a novel therapeutic target in depression-related behavior. J Neurosci, 29:5381-5388.

Light, A.R., White, A.T., Hughen, R.W., and Light, K.C. (2009) Moderate Exercise Increases Expression for Sensory, Adrenergic, and Immune Genes in Chronic Fatigue Syndrome Patients But Not in Normal Subjects. J Pain, 10:1099-1112.

White, A., Lee, J., Light, A., and Light, K. (2009) Brain activation in multiple sclerosis: a BOLD fMRI study of the effects of fatiguing hand exercise. Mult Scler, 15:580-586.

Walder, R.Y., Rasmussen, L.A., Rainier, J.D., Light, A.R., Wemmie, J.A., and Sluka, K.A. (2009) ASIC1 and ASIC3 Play Different Roles in the Development of Hyperalgesia After Inflammatory Muscle Injury. J Pain, Dec 14. [Epub ahead of print]

Light, A.R., Hughen, R.W., Zhang, J., Rainier, J., Liu, Z., and Lee, J. (2008) Dorsal root ganglion neurons innervating skeletal muscle respond to physiological combinations of protons, ATP, and lactate mediated by ASIC, P2X and TRPV1. J Neurophysiol., 100:1184-1201.