Dr. Aicher's studies are focused on the cellular mechanisms underlying normal and pathophysiological function in both pain and autonomic reflex pathways. These studies use a variety of techniques including tract tracing, dual labeling immunocytochemistry, electron microscopy, optical densitometry, behavioral and physiological measurements, and single unit activity in the brain.
An understanding of the normal localization of receptors within somatosensory and autonomic pathways is critical, but we are also interested in receptor plasticity in these systems. Several studies are examining changes in receptor density or subcellular localization that occur after manipulations that alter the function of either the somatosensory system (chronic morphine treatment) or autonomic system (hypertension). Any changes in receptor density or localization in response to these manipulations will provide insight into the mechanisms underlying functional changes.
These studies will contribute to the understanding of cellular mechanisms for plasticity in these neural systems and may influence clinical treatments for pain and hypertension.