Neuroimmunology and functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI)

Key observations include: epidermal Langerhans' cell migration is induced by acute psychosocial stress consequent on release of calcitonin gene related peptide (CGRP) from epidermal nerve fibres.

Current research is focused on identifying mechanisms that underlie Langerhans' cell trafficking in response to stress, both acute and chronic, and in elucidating the role(s) of CGRP and other neuropeptides. An emerging area of research is the role of the neuroendocrine system in stress-mediated responses with a particular focus on prolactin, αMSH and ACTH.

We are establishing a world class group investigating cerebral processing of:

  • Emotions relating to skin disease
  • Itch

fMRI studies on patients with psoriasis have revealed that the processing of facial expressions of disgust is significantly impaired in subjects with psoriasis as compared with normal controls in that blood flow in the anterior insular cortex is reduced. This appears to be a coping mechanism.

The Group are investigating the cerebral processing of histamine-induced itch.