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Search Program Faculty/Research

Armen Akopian, Ph.D.

Akopian photo


Pain is a sex- and age-dependent phenomenon. Many inflammatory and idiopathic chronic pain conditions, such as migraine, fibromyalgia, TMD, rheumatoid arthritis, have 2-6-fold greater prevalence and/or symptom severity in women as compared to men. There has been little-to-no overall improvement in pain management for the elderly. Clinical data indicate that the problems in managing pain in the elderly stem from how standard analgesics act differently in aged individuals, and longer recovery times after trauma and surgery compared to younger patients.

A main research interest of Dr. Armen Akopian's lab is to understand why standard analgesics has sex- and age-dependent efficiency; and importantly, why chronicity of pain conditions affected by sex and age. Accordingly, our current projects are investigating:

(1) Roles of pituitary hormones in control of sex-specific mechanisms of pain

(2) Signaling controlling sex-dependent actions (i.e. efficacy, tolerance) of opioids

(3) Meningeal signaling in underlying mechanisms of female-selectivity of migraine

(4) Alterations of opioid actions and postoperative pain mechanisms in elderlies

Immune-mediated pulmonary diseases are chronic debilitating conditions, affecting millions. Unfortunately, the number of people with these conditions continues to grow. The environment increasingly contributes to this grim picture. Hence, the lab’s second interest is focused on understanding how the nervous system and other lung cells mediate effects of clean diesel technologies on the airways.

The lab uses a multidisciplinary research approach that includes electrophysiology, behavioral physiology, anatomy, pharmacology, biochemistry and cell biology.

Selected Publications

Mecklenburg J, Patil M.J., Koek W., and Akopian A.N. Effects of local and spinal administrations of mu-opioids on postoperative pain in aged versus adult mice Pain Rep. 2017; Jan;2(1). 584-594.

Grattan D. R, and Akopian A. N. Oscillating from Neurosecretion to Multitasking Dopamine Neurons”. Cell Report 2016; 15(4): 681-2.

Brackley A.D., Gomez R., Akopian A.N., Henry M. A., and Jeske N. A. GRK2 Constitutively Governs Peripheral Delta Opioid Receptor Activity Cell Report 2016; Sep 6: 2686-98.

Akopian A.N, Fanick ER, and Brooks EG. (2016) TRP channels and traffic-related environmental pollution-induced pulmonary disease Semin Immunopathol. 2016; 38(3): 331-8.

Weng HJ, Patel KN, Jeske NA, Bierbower SM, Zou W, Tiwari V, Zheng Q, Tang Z, Mo GC, Wang Y, Geng Y, Zhang J, Guan Y, Akopian AN, Dong X. Tmem100 Is a Regulator of TRPA1-TRPV1 Complex and Contributes to Persistent Pain Neuron. 2015; Feb 18;85(4):833-46

Belugin S, Diogenes AR, Patil MJ, Ginsburg E, Henry MA, Akopian AN. Mechanisms of transient signaling via short and long prolactin receptor isoforms in female and male sensory neurons. J Biol Chem. 2013 Nov 29; 288(48):34943-55.

Patil MJ, Ruparel SB, Henry MA, Akopian AN. Prolactin regulates TRPV1, TRPA1, and TRPM8 in sensory neurons in a sex-dependent manner: Contribution of prolactin receptor to inflammatory pain. Am J Physiol Endocrinol Metab. 2013 Nov 1;305(9):E1154-64.

Patil MJ, Green DP, Henry MA, Akopian AN. Sex-dependent roles of prolactin and prolactin receptor in postoperative pain and hyperalgesia in mice. Neuroscience 2013 Dec 3;253:132-41.

Staruschenko A, Jeske NA, Akopian AN. Contribution of TRPV1-TRPA1 interaction to the single channel properties of the TRPA1 channel. J Biol Chem. 2010 May 14;285(20):15167-77. 

Associate Professor


Ph.D., Molecular Neuroscience, Institute of Molecular Biology, Moscow, 1994

M.S., Biochemistry/Biophysics, Moscow State University, Moscow, 1989

B.S., Solid State Physics, Armenia State University, Yerevan, 1986



Phone: (210) 567-6668

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