Andrew Tan PhD

Associate Research Scientist in Neurology

Research Interests

Spinal cord injury; pain; spasticity; plasticity; CNS; glial scar; therapeutics; peripheral nerve injury; diabetes; electrophysiology

Research Summary

Many people with spinal cord injury (SCI) develop neuropathic pain and spasticity within months after injury. Neuropathic pain and spasticity are medical complications after SCI that can severely affect quality of life, interfere with daily activities, and impose a huge economic burden on individuals and society. Unfortunately, despite aggressive efforts, there is still no cure for these conditions after SCI.

The goal of our research is to identify a treatment strategy for clinically intractable pain and spasticity after spinal cord injury (SCI). An emerging concept in SCI pathology is the involvement of a spinal memory mechanism. In classical learning and memory, dendritic spines—micron-sized synaptic structures—have an adaptive role in cortical function and contribute to experience-dependent enhancement of synaptic efficacy. In pathology, however, dendritic spine plasticity appears maladaptive. Dendritic spine morphology (i.e., shape, number, and location) can determine the quality and magnitude of electrical information as it is relayed through neuronal circuits. In a larger sense, spine architecture can influence how the nervous system functions.

Selected Publications

  • Tan AM, Colletti M, Rorai AT, Skene JH, Levine JM. Antibodies against the NG2 proteoglycan promote the regeneration of sensory axons within the dorsal columns of the spinal cord. J Neurosci. 2006 (18):4729-39.
  • Tan AM, Stamboulian S, Chang YW, Zhao P, Hains AB, Waxman SG, Hains BC. Neuropathic pain memory is maintained by Rac1-regulated dendritic spine remodeling after spinal cord injury. J Neurosci. 2008 (49): 13173-83.
  • Tan AM, Choi JS, Waxman SG, Hains BC. Dendritic spine remodeling after spinal cord injury alters neuronal signal processing. J Neurophysiol. 2009 (4): 2396-409.
  • Tan AM, Chang YW, Zhao P, Hains BC, Waxman SG. Rac1-regulated dendritic spine remodeling contributes to neuropathic pain after peripheral nerve injury. Exp Neurol. 2011 Dec;232(2):222-33. Epub 2011 Sep 17.
  • Tan AM, Waxman SG. Spinal cord injury, dendritic spine remodeling, and spinal memory mechanisms. Exp Neurol. 2012 May;235(1):142-51.
  • Tan AM, Samad OA, Fischer TZ, Zhao P, Persson AK, Waxman SG. Maladaptive Dendritic Spine Remodeling Contributes to Diabetic Neuropathic Pain. J Neurosci. 2012 May 16;32(20):6795-807.

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