What's Inside

College Links









Make a Gift box


  Home > VBS Faculty > Alice A. Larson

Alice A. Larson

Alice Larson

e-mail: larso011@umn.edu

235 Animal Science/ Veterinary Medicine
1988 Fitch Avenue
University of Minnesota
St. Paul, MN 55108
B.A., University of Minnesota
Ph.D., University of Minnesota
Post-Doctoral, University of Illinois

Research Interests

Primary Research Interests: Our laboratory studies pain transmission with a special emphasis on the influence of gender and immunology. The goal is to understand painful conditions, such as fibromyalgia syndrome, that occur more frequently in females and are exacerbated by stress. Our focus is on stress hormones and on mast cells, immune cells that enter the CNS in response to stress and certain reproductive hormones.

Mast cells are localized in the thalamus, an area important in sensory transmission, including pain. Mast cells are more abundant in specific areas of the female than the male thalamus. Interfering with the degranulation of mast cells by the central injection of cromolyn, a mast cell stabilizer, blocks the acquisition of appropriate breeding behaviors in female mice, perhaps by an influence on sensory transmission. Chronic stress increases the number of mast cells in the thalamus, suggesting that they become increasingly important in these circumstances.

Selected Publications

(For a comprehensive list of  Dr. Larson's recent publications, refer to PubMed, a service provided by the National Library of Medicine.)


Ramy E. Abdelhamid, Katalin J. Kovacs, Jeffrey D. Pasley, Myra G. Nunez, and Alice A. Larson. Forced swim-induced musculoskeletal hyperalgesia is mediated by CRF2 receptors but not by TRPV1 receptors. Neuropharmacology 72, 29-37, 2013.


Larson, Alice A., Jose V. Pardo, and Jeffrey D. Pasley. Review of Overlap Between Thermoregulation and Pain Modulation in Fibromyaglia. In press in The Clinical Journal of Pain, 2013.


Abdemhamid, Ramy E., Katalin J. Kovács, Myra G. Nunez, and Alice A. Larson. Resiniferatoxin (RTX) Causes a Uniquely Protracted Musculoskeletal Hyperalgesia in Mice by Activation of TRPV1 Receptors. Neuropharmacology 72: 29-37, 2013.


Larson, Alice A. Mark J. Thomas Alex McElhose and Katalin J. Kovács: Spontaneous locomotor activity correlates with the degranulation of mast cells in the meninges rather than in the thalamus: Disruptive effect of cocaine. Brain Research 1395: 30-37, 2011.


Alice A. Larson and Katalin J. Kovacs: Fibromyalgia, Mechanisms and Treatment, in Treatment of Neuropathic Pain, Schmidt, R.F, & Willis, W.D., Editors, Encyclopedic Reference of Pain. Springer, Berlin Heidelberg New York, 2006, 2010. ISBN-13: 9783540439578.


Russell, I. Jon and Alice A. Larson: Neurophysiopathogenesis of fibromyalgia syndrome: a unified hypothesis. Rheum Dis Clin N Am 35: 421-435, 2009.


Kovacs, Katalin J., Jonathan C. Papic and Alice A. Larson: Movement- evoked hyperalgesia induced by lipopolysaccharides is not suppressed by glucocorticoids. Pain136: 75-84, 2008.


Taiwo Oludare B., I. Jon Russell, Emmanuel Mignot, L. Lin, Joel E. Michalek, Wanda Haynes, Y. Xiao, J. M. Zeitzer, Alice A. Larson. Normal cerebrospinal fluid levels of hypocretin-1 (orexin A) in patients with fibromyalgia syndrome are significantly increased by treatment with tizanidine. Sleep Med. Mar 16: 17369087, 2007.


Kovács, Katalin J. and Alice A. Larson: Mast cells aggregate in the anogenital region of somatotopically organized thalamic nuclei during estrus in female mice. Brain Research 1114: 85-97, 2006.


Taiwo, Oludare B., Katalin J. Kovács, Yanxi Sun, Alice A. Larson: Unilateral spinal nerve ligation leads to an asymmetrical distribution of mast cells in the thalamus of female but male mice, Pain 114: 131-140, 2005.


Taiwo, Oludare B., Katalin J. Kovács, Lauren C. Sperry, and Alice A. Larson: Naloxone-induced morphine withdrawal increases the number and degranulation of mast cells in the thalamus of the mouse. Neuropharmacology 46: 824-835, 2004.


Kehl, Lois J., Katalin J. Kovács, Alice A. Larson: Tolerance develops to the effect of lipopolysaccharides on movement-evoked hyperalgesia when administered chronically by a systemic but not an intrathecal route. Pain 111: 104-115 2004.


Fang, Ming, Katalin J. Kovács, Lauralei L. Fisher, and Alice A. Larson: Thrombin inhibits NMDA-mediated nociceptive activity in the mouse: Possible mediation by endothelin. Journal of Physiology 549(3) 903-917, 2003.


Tien, Duc, Peter T. Ohara, Alice A. Larson, and Luc Jasmin: Vagal afferents are necessary for the establishment but not the maintenance of kainic acid-induced hyperalgesia in mice. Pain 102: 39-49, 2003.


Velázquez, Ruben L., Kenneth E. McCarson, Yongjiu Cai, Katalin J. Kovács, Qiuying Shi, Maria Evensjo, and Alice A. Larson: Up-regulation of neurokinin-1 receptor expression in rat spinal cord by an N-terminal metabolite of substance P. European Journal of Neuroscience 16: 229-241, 2002.


Laughlin, Tinna M., Alice A. Larson, George L. Wilcox: Mechanisms of Induction of Persistent Nociception by Dynorphin. Journal of Pharmacology and Experimental Therapeutics 299(1): 6-11, 2001.


Kovács, Katalin J., Yongjiu Cai, and Alice A. Larson: Neuronal nitric oxide synthase (nNOS) mRNA is downregulated and constitutive NOS enzymatic activity decreased in thoracic dorsal root ganglia and spinal cord by a substance P N-terminal metabolite. European Journal of Neuroscience 14(4): 577-584, 2001.

Current Funding


“Urocortin and Musculoskeletal Hyperalgesia”, R01 from NIH

Honors and Awards

National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH) Study Section Member, Behavioral Neurobiology Subcommittee, 1988–1992


National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) Career Development Award, 1988–1993


SmithKline Beecham Award for Research Excellence, 1995


Associate Editor for the Journal of Pharmacology and Experimental Therapeutics, 1999–2000


Scientific Advisory Board Member for the American Fibromyalgia Association Foundation (AFSA), 2000–present


College of Veterinary Medicine Mark of Excellence Award, 2013

Graduate Students


Nelson L. Dalo, D.V.M. (M.S. 1984, Veterinary Physiology and Pharmacology), currently an Associate Professor of Pharmacology

James Madl, D.V.M. (Ph.D. 1987, Veterinary Physiology and Pharmacology), currently Assoc Professor at Colorado State University

Stephen Skilling, D.V.M. (Ph.D. 1989, Veterinary Biology) currently a practicing veterinarian in Burnsville, MN

Carl Hornfelt (M.S. 1990; Ph.D. 1998, Veterinary Biology) currently a researcher at Medtronics

Sun Xiaofeng, M.S. 1990; Ph.D. 1993, Veterinary Biology) currently a researcher at Mayo Clinic

Julie Kreeger, D.V.M., M.S., Ph.D. 1995, Veterinary Biology) currently a researcher at the National Black-Footed Ferret Conservation Center, Laramie WY

Virginia Geottl (D.V.M./Ph.D. 1996, Neuroscience, University of Minnesota). Currently a Research Associate at The Ohio State University

Susan L. Giovengo D.V.M. (Ph.D. 1997, Veterinary Biomedical Sciences, University of Minnesota) Currently at The Proctor and Gamble Co., Mason OH

Ruben Velazquez (M.D./Ph.D. 1998, Neuroscience, University of Minnesota). Currently a physician specializing in ear, nose and throat in Puerto Rico


Jennifer Triemstra – (Coadvisor for Ph.D. 2013, Comparative and Molecular Bioscience, University of Minnesota) Currently a Medical Science Liaison for Upsher-Smith Laboratories in Maple Grove, MN

Recent Postdoctoral Associates

Katalin Kovacs, Ph.D. (1998-present)

Ming Fang, Ph.D. (2000-2001)

Yanxi Kim, M.D. (2001)

Meltem Deniz D.D.S. (2001-2003)

Bola Taiwo Ph.D. (2002-2005)

Ramy Abdelhamid (2010-present)



Notice of Privacy Practices