Relieving the pain of peripheral arterial disease

By Jan Jarvis

Eric Gonzales
Dr. Eric Gonzales
Liu Jin
Dr. Jin Liu

For someone with peripheral arterial disease – a condition that causes narrowing of arteries in the limbs – pain is a big problem.

“The treatment for it is exercise,” said Eric Gonzales, PhD, Associate Professor in the Department of Medical Education in the TCU and UNTHSC School of Medicine, which is pending accreditation. “But you can’t exercise if you’re in extreme pain.”

Relief could be in a class of proteins that is found in virtually all cells in the body. In a study recently published in Nature Communications, Dr. Gonzales and Dr. Jin Liu, Assistant Professor of Pharmaceutical Sciences in the UNT System College of Pharmacy, examine acid-sensing ion channels (ASICs) and their role as mediators of pain, with the help of super computers.

“Their sole role is to sense changes in acidity,” Dr. Gonzales said.

As pH changes within the human body, ASICs sense these changes and convey signals that alter cellular responses. Additionally, calcium can modify how the ASIC3 protein responds to changes in acidity. In the recently published study, the team identified a single amino acid within the ASIC3 protein that is responsible for this calcium sensitivity.

The discovery could one day lead to new therapies that relieve pain, which would make it possible for people with peripheral arterial disease to exercise again.



Recent News

Stephanie Ibekwe
  • Our People
|Dec 5, 2022

A voice for women in medicine

When Dr. Stephanie Ibekwe’s mother, Sarah, came home from her nursing job, she would tell her daughter stories about her patients and the conversations she had with them. “Nursing is pretty stressful, but my mom had an amazing way of handling things,” she said. “My mom really loved to bui...
Noah Peeri Headshot
  • Our People
|Dec 5, 2022

SPH alum Dr. Noah Peeri produces JAMA Oncology publication just months after graduation

Noah Peeri, Ph.D., MPH, a recent graduate of The University of North Texas Health Science Center’s School of Public Health, has achieved a major milestone by publishing an article in the Journal of the American Medical Association Oncology just months after completing his graduate degree.   H...
Techstars Demo Day.
  • On Campus
|Dec 1, 2022

Techstars Demo Day brings innovation to the historic stockyards

For the last 13 weeks, the founders of 10 of the world’s most innovative startups have been in Fort Worth perfecting their new physical health technology. They are part of the world’s first physical health accelerator, and now they are ready to show the fruits of their labor. Techstars Demo D...
Dr. Sid O'bryant Award
  • Our People
|Dec 1, 2022

HSC named the winner of the D Magazines 2022 Achievement in Medical Research Award

The extensive research done by Dr. Sid O’Bryant and his team at the Institute of Translational Research has earned the University of North Texas Health Science Center at Fort Worth the 2022 Medical Research Award by D Magazine. Dr. O’Bryant, the executive director of the ITR and a professor at t...