Dr Stephen Thompson

Dr Stephen Thompson

Associate Professor (Senior Lecturer) in Biomedical Sciences

School of Biomedical & Healthcare Sciences (Plymouth University Peninsula Schools of Medicine and Dentistry)


2003-2004 Lecturer. School of Biological Sciences. University of Plymouth.

1999-2003 Lecturer. Division of Physiology & Centre for Neuroscience Research, King’s College London.

1995-1999 MRC Career Development Award Research Fellow

Department of Physiology. St. Thomas’ Hospital Medical School (UMDS). London.

1992-1995 Research Fellow. Novartis Institute for Medical Research. London.

1985-1992 Postdoctoral Research Assistant. Department of Anatomy & Developmental Biology. University College London

1982-1985 University of Glasgow, Institute of Physiology, PhD. (Neuroscience)

1978-1982 University of Dundee, Institute of Biomedical Science. BSc. Physiology

Teaching interests

Module lead
BIOM1004     Physiology and Pathophysiology
BIOM2009    Cellular Sciences in health and disease
BIOM2021     Cellular pathology
BIOM2026    Systems Physiology and Pathophysiology
BIOM3026    Current developments in Neurobiology
BIOL3004     Personal Research
BIOM3006    Personal Research and professional development

Teach on following modules

Research interests

Research interests focus on the fundamental molecular, cellular and systems mechanisms that underlie dysfunction within the damaged vertebrate central and peripheral nervous systems, its repair mechanisms and regeneration responses. One theme of this work is to understand mechanisms which may contribute to chronic pain states. Another is to investigate mechanisms that underlie impaired regeneration within the injured or diseased central nervous system.

The goal of these studies is to promote the re-establishment of normal cell function under circumstances where the physical or metabolic environment may be non-permissive to repair.

Research degrees awarded to supervised students

Dr Joceline Triner 2013

William Cafferty. PhD.2002

Vicky Harding PhD.2002

Dr. Jason Brooks MD.2003

Mlle.Sarah Slack. PhD. 2004

Grants & contracts



Action Research ‘Sympathetico-sensory coupling as a therapeutic target in chronic neuropathic pain’


£ 95,000.00

Royal College of Anaesthetists. ‘Spinal Analgesic Actions of Cannabinoids’ (With A. Rice)



Wellcome Trust. ‘The role of IL-6 in regeneration of adult mammalian sensory neurons’.



Wellcome Trust. ‘Integrative Animal & Human Physiology Initiative in Pain’ (With A. Dickenson; M.Fitzgerald, S.Hunt,M.Koltzenburg; S.McMahon; C.Orengo; A.Rice & J.Wood)

Refereed Journal Articles, 1999-present

1.       M.P. Helley, W. Abate, S.K. Jackson, J.H. Bennett, S.W.N.Thompson (2015). The expression of Toll-like receptors 4, 7 and co-receptors in neurochemical sub-populations of rat trigeminal ganglionsensory neurons.  Neuroscience. 310.  686-698

 2.       ThompsonS.W.N.  (2009).Windup in the Spinal cord. In Synaptic Plasticity and Pain. pp. 255-270. Edit. M.Malcagnio. Springer. New York. 2009.

 3.       Averill,S., Inglis,J.J. King,V.R., Thompson S.W.N., Cafferty, W.B.J.,Shortland,P.J., Hunt S.P, Kidd, B.L. and Priestley,J.V. (2008).  Reg-2 expression in dorsal root ganglionneurons after adjuvant-induced monoarthritis. Neuroscience. 155. 1227-1236.

 4.       Thaker MA., Clark, AK., Bishop T., Grist J., YipPK., Moon LDF., Thompson SWN.,  Marchand F. and McMahon SB. (2008). CCL2 is akey mediator of microglia activation in neuropathic pain states. European Journal of Pain. 13. (3):263-272.

 5.       ThompsonS.W.N. (2006). Clinical Pain, Experimental Evidence: Molecular Mechanismswithin the Spinal Cord. In ‘Topical Issues in Pain’ Vol 5. no.6. Pub. ThePhysiotherapy Pain Association. Edit. L.Gifford. CNS Press Ltd.

 6.       Abdou-Sherif S., Hall, S., Thompson S.W.N. & Hamann, W. (2006).Pulsed radiofrequency applied to dorsal root ganglia causes a selective increasein ATF3 in small neurons European Journalof Pain 10. 171-176.

 7.       Qiu, J. Cafferty, W.B.J., McMahon,S.B. and S.W.N. Thompson (2005) Conditioning-injuryinduced spinal cord regeneration requires STAT3 activation Journal of Neuroscience  25: 1645-1653.

 8.       Cafferty,W.B.J., Gardiner, N.J., Das,P., Qiu, J. McMahon,S.B. & Thompson,S.W.N.(2004) Conditioning-Injury induced spinal axon regeneration fails in IL-6Knockout  mice. Journal of  Neuroscience  24 (18)4432-4443

 9.       Slack,S.  Pezet, S., McMahon,S.B.  Thompson,S.W.N.& Malcagnio,M. (2004) Brain-derived Neurotrophic factor induces NMDAreceptor subunit one phosphorylation via ERK and PKC in the spinal cord.  Eur. J.Neurosci.. 20. 1769-1778.

 10.    J. W. Brooks, S.W.N. Thompson, A.S.C. Rice, & M. Malcangio. (2004) (S)-AMPAinhibits electrically evoked calcitonin gene-related peptide (CGRP) release fromthe rat dorsal horn: reversal by Cannabinoid receptor antagonist SR141716A. Neurosci Lett.  372(1-2):85-88.

 11.    Pezet,S., Lever,I.J., Malcangio,M.,Perkinton,M., Thompson,S.W.N.,Williams,R.J., & McMahon,S.B. (2002). Noxious stimulation induces TrkBreceptor and down-stream ERK phosphorylation in the spinal dorsal horn. Mol. & Cell  Neuroscience. 21 (4) 684-695.

 12.    Slack,S. and Thompson,S.W.N. (2002) BDNF induces NMDA receptor 1 phosphorylationin rat spinal cord. Neuroreport  13.1967-1970.

 13.    Gardiner,N.J, Cafferty, W.B.J., Slack,S.E. & Thompson,S.W.N. (2002)Expression of gp130 and leukemia inhibitory factor receptor subunits in adultsensory neurons: regulation by nerve injury. J. Neurochem. 83 (1) 100-109.

 14.    Thompson,S.W.N.(2001). Is the Sympathetic Nervous system a pain?  Neurosci.News  4 (3) 35-41.

 15.    Kerr B.J., Thomspon,S.W.N., McMahon,S.B. & Wynick,D (2001). Endogenous Galanin is necessary forthe full expression of central sensitisation following peripheral nerve injury. Neuroreport 12 (15) :3331-3334.

 16.    Cafferty,W.B.J., Gardiner,N.J.Gavazzi,I., Powell,J., McMahon,S.B., Heath,J.K., Munson,J., Cohen,J and Thompson, S.W.N. (2001). LeukemiaInhibitory Factor determines the growth status of injured adult sensoryneurons. Journal of  Neuroscience. 21 (18) 7161-7170.

 17.    Wynick,D, Thompson,S.W.N., & McMahon, (2001) The role of galanin as amulti-functional neuropeptide in the nervous system. Current Opinion in Pharmacology. 1. 73-77.

 18.    Kerr B.J., Gupta,Y., Pope,R., Thompson,S.W.N., Wynick,D andMcMahon,S.B. (2001) Endogenous galanin potentiates spinal nociceptiveprocessing following inflammation. Pain 93. 267-277.

19.    Bridges, D.,Thompson,S.W.N., and Rice,A.S.C. (2001) Mechanisms of neuropathic pain. Br.J.Anaesth. 87(1) 12-26.

20.   Kerr,B.,J., Wynick,D., Thompson,S.W.N, and McMahon,S.B. (2000). The biological role ofgalanin in normal and neuropathic states. Prog.Brain Res. 129.  219-230

21.    Boucher,T.J., Kerr,B.J., Ramer,M.S., Thompson,S.W.N.  McMahon S.B. (2000) Neurotrophic factoreffects on pain-signalling systems. Proc.9thWorld Congress on Pain. Vienna. Progress in Pain Research & ManagementVol.16, Edit. Devor,M., Rowbotham,M.C. and Wiesenfeld-Hallin,S.

22.    Thompson,S.W.N. and Tonge.D., (2000) Bone Cancer:gain without the Pain. Nature Medicine6 (5) 504-505

23.    Kerr,B., Cafferty,W.B.J., Gupta,Y.K.,Bacon,A., Wynick,D., McMahon,S.B., and Thompson,S.W.N.,(2000) Galanin Knockout mice reveal nociceptive deficits following peripheralnerve injury (Eur.J Neuroscience)12,793-802.

24.    Ramer,M.S., Thompson,S.W.N., and McMahon,S.B.,(1999) Causes and Consequences of sympathetico-sensory coupling in the dorsalroot ganglion. Pain  Suppl.6S111-S120

25.   Thompson, S.W.N. , Bennett, D.L.H. , Kerr, B.J., Bradbury,EJ. and McMahon,S.B. (1999) BDNF is an Endogenous Modulator of NociceptiveResponses in the Spinal Cord. Proceedingsof the National Acadamy of Sciences. USA. 96. 7714-7718.

26.    Kerr,B., Trivedi, P.M., Dassan, P.,Bradbury,E., French,J., Shelton,D.B., Bennett, D.B.M, McMahon,S.B. andThompson, S.W.N. (1999) BrainDerived Neurotrophic Factor Modulates Nociceptive Sensory Inputs andNMDA-evoked Responses in the Rat Spinal Cord. Journal of  Neuroscience 19(12)5138-5148

 27.    Jones M G., Munson JB. and Thompson S W.N. (1999). The role ofNerve Growth Factor in Sympathetic Sprouting in rat Dorsal Root Ganglia. Pain. 79 21-29

  28.    Thompson,S.W.N. Priestley,J.V. and Southall,A. (1998)gp130 cytokines, LIF and IL-6, induce neuropeptide expression in intact adult ratsensory neurons in vivo: Time course,specificity and comparison with sciatic nerve axotomy. Neuroscience, 84 (4) 1247-1255


29.    Thompson,S.W.N.and Majithia.A.A. (1998) Leukemia InhibitoryFactor induces sympathetic sprouting in intact dorsal root ganglia in the adultrat in vivo. J. Physiology (Lond) 506 (3) 809-816


30.    Thompson,S.W.N.  Vernallis, A E., Heath, J.K. and Priestley,J.V. (1997) LIF is Retrogradely Transported by a Distinct Population of AdultRat Sensory Neurons: Co-localization with trkA and other Neurochemical Markers.Eur.J Neurosci. 9 1244-1251.


31.    Thompson,S.W.N.,Dray,A. & Urban,L. (1996) Leukemia Inhibitory Factor (LIF) inducesmechanical allodynia but not thermal hyperalgesia in the juvenile rat. Neuroscience 71, 1091-1094


32.    Thompson,S.W.N. and Wall, P.D. (1996) The effect ofGABA and 5-HT receptor antagonists on rat dorsal root potentials. Neurosci. Letts. 217 153-156.


33.    Boxall, SJ, Thompson, S.W.N., Dray, A. Dickenson, AH. and Urban, L. (1996)Metabotropic glutamate receptor activation contributes to nociceptive reflexactivity in the rat spinal cord in vitro. Neuroscience,74, (1) 13-20.


34.    Thompson,S.W.N.,Dray,A., McCarson,K.E., Krause,J.E. & Urban,L.(1995). Nerve growth factor induces mechanical allodynia associated withNeurokinin-1 receptor activation and novel A-fibre evoked spinal reflexactivity in the rat. Pain 62, 219-231.


35.    King,A.E. and Thompson,S.W.N. (1995). Short and long term spinal excitabilitychanges following peripheral injury. Seminarsin the Neurosci.  7 233-243.


36.    Thompson,S.W.N.,Babbedge,R., Levers,T., Dray,A and Urban,L. (1995). No evidence for nitric oxidecontribution to spinal reflex activity in the rat spinal cord in vitro. Neurosci. Letts. 188121-124.

37.    Urban,L. Thompson,S.W.N., Fox, A.J. Jeftinija,S. and Dray,A. (1995)Peptidergic afferents: physiological aspects. In 'Neuropeptides in the spinalcord', Progress in Brain Research, 104 pp 255-269 F. Nyberg, H.S. Sharmaand Z Wiesenfeld-Hallin (eds).

 38.    Urban,L. Thompson,S.W.N. & Dray,A (1994). Modulation of spinal excitability:Cooperation between neurokinin and excitatory amino acid transmitters. Trends Neurosci. 17, 432-438.

 39.    Urban,L. Thompson,S.W.N., Nagy,I. & Dray,A. (1994) Hyperexcitability in the spinal dorsal horn: cooperation ofpeptides and excitatory amino acids? In CellularMechanisms of Sensory Processing (the Somatosensory System) Ed. L. Urban.pp. 379-99 Berlin: Springer Verlag

 40.    Thompson,S.W.N.,Dray,A. & Urban,L. (1994) Injury-induced plasticity of spinal reflexactivity: NK1 receptor activation and enhanced A- and C-fibre mediatedresponses in the rat spinal cord in vitro.Journal of Neuroscience. 14 3672-3687. 

41.    Thompson,S.W.N.,Woolf,C.J. & Sivilotti,L.G. (1993) Small caliber afferent inputs produce aheterosynaptic facilitation of the synaptic responses evoked by primaryafferent A-fibers in the neonatal rat spinal cord in vitro. J. Neurophysiol.69 2116-2128.

 42.    Thompson,S.W.N.,Urban,L. & Dray,A. (1993) Contribution of NK1and NK2 receptor activation to high threshold afferent fiber evoked ventralroot responses in the rat spinal cord invitro. Brain Res. 625 100-108

 43.    Sivilotti,L.G., Thompson,S.W.N. & Woolf(1993) Rate of rise of the cumulative depolarization evoked by repetitivestimulation of small-caliber afferents is a predictor of action potential windupin rat spinal neurons in vitro. J. Neurophysiol. 69 1621-1631

 44.    Thompson,S.W.N.,Gerber,G., Sivilotti,L.G. & Woolf,C.J. (1992)Long duration ventral root potentials in the neonatal rat spinal cord in vitro; the effects of ionotropic andmetabotropic excitatory amino acid receptor antagonists. Brain Res. 595 87-97.

 45.    Thompson,S.W.N.and Woolf,C.J., (1991). Primary afferent evokedprolonged potentials in the spinal cord and their central summation: Role ofthe NMDA receptor. Proceedings of the VIth World Congress on Pain. In PainResearch and Cinical Management Vol. 4 Bond,M.R., Charlton,J.E. &Woolf,C.J. Edit.

 46.    Woolf,C.J. and Thompson,S.W.N., (1991). Slow potentials and functional plasticityin flexor motoneurones: involvement of NMDA receptors. In Restorative Neurology. 5.Plasticity of Motoneuronal connections, 335-343. (Ed. A. Wernig.) Elsevier Pub.

 47.    Thompson,S.W.N.,King,A.E, and Woolf,C.J., (1990).Activity-dependent changed in rat ventral horn neurones in vitro summation of prolonged afferent evoked postsynapticdepolarizations produce a D-APV sensitive windup. Europ.J.Neurosci. 2638-649.

 48.    Woolf,C.J. and Thompson,S.W.N., (1990). The induction and maintenance of centralsensitization is dependent on NMDA receptor activation; implications for thetreatment of post-injury pain hypersensitivity states. Pain 44 293-300

 49.    King,A.E., Thompson,S.W.N. and Woolf,C.J. (1990). Characterization of thecutaneous input to the ventral horn invitro using the isolated spinal cord-hindlimb preparation. J.Neurosci. Meths. 35 39-46.

 50.    Woolf,C.J. and Thompson,S.W.N., (1990). Slow potentials, receptive fieldplasticity and pain. In, Wenner Gren Series on somatosensation,  O. Franzen, Edit.

 51.    King,A.E. & Thompson,S.W.N.(1989). Characterization of deep dorsal horn neurones in the rat spinal cord in vitro; synaptic and excitatory aminoacid induced excitations. Comp. Biochem.Physiol., 93 171-176.

 52.    Woolf,C.J., Thompson,S.W.N. and King,A.E. (1988). Prolonged primary afferentinduced alterations in dorsal horn neurones, an intracellular analysis in vivo and in vitro. J.Physiol. (Paris)83 255-266.

 53.    King,A.E., Thompson,S.W.N., Urban,L. and Woolf,C.J. (1988) The responses recordedin vitro of deep dorsal horn neurones to direct and orthodromic stimulationin the young rat spinal cord. Neuroscience,27 (1) 231-242.

 54.    King,A.E., Thompson,S.W.N., Urban,L. and Woolf,C.J. (1988) An intracellularanalysis of amino acid induced excitations of deep dorsal horn neurones in therat spinal cord slice. Neurosci. Letts.,89 286 - 292.

 55.    Blackshaw,S.E. and Thompson,S.W.N. (1988) Hyperpolarising responses to stretch insensory neurones innervating leech body wall muscle. Journal of Physiology 396121 - 137.

 56.    Fitzgerald,M. King,A.E., Thompson,S.W.N. and Woolf,C.J. (1987)The postnatal development of the ventral root reflex in the rat; a comparative in vivo and in vitro study. Neurosci.Letts. 78 41 - 45.