Nelson Lab

Mark T. Nelson,


University Distinguished Professor and Chair
Department of Pharmacology
Goggle Scholar Citations Profile

Contact Information

Department of Pharmacology
The University of Vermont, College of Medicine
Given Building, Room B-333A

89 Beaumont Avenue
Burlington, VT 05405-0068

Phone: (802) 656-2500

Fax: (802) 656-4523

Research Interests

The overall goal of the research in Dr. Nelson's laboratory is to understand the control of smooth muscle and endothelial cell function by ion channels and calcium signaling.

There are three major research areas in the lab:

  1. To understand the mechanisms by which computationally active neurons in the brain control local cerebral blood flow (CBF) ("neurovascular coupling") in the CNS.  To study this we have a CADASIL mouse model that carries one of the human mutations of NOTCH 3 (R169C) known to cause the human disease, and displays many of the clinical features of the disease including the white matter lesions associated with dementia.  Mutant Notch 3 leads to accumulation of extracellular proteins in the parenchymal arterioles of the CNS and causes an early cerebrovascular dysfunction (loss of tone) through upregulation voltage-dependent potassium channels.
  2. To understand how sympathetic nerves, smooth muscle cells and endothelial cells communicate ("vascular crosstalk") to control the function of resistance-sized peripheral arteries.  We have made a number of important contributions to this field including; the fist evidence that expression of endothelial cell SK3 channels modulates blood pressure (Taylor et al., Circ Res, 2003), the first measurements of local IP3-mediated Ca2+ signals ("pulsars") at the myoendothelial projections (Ledoux et al., PNAS, 2008), and of elementary Ca2+ signals ("sparklets") through single TRPV4 channels (Sonkusare et al., Science, 2012). 
  3. To understand the roles of ion channels and calcium signaling in the control of urinary bladder function in health and disease.

Research approaches cover the spectrum from molecular, cellular, intact tissue, whole organ and in vivo (local CBF, blood pressure, urodynamics). using optical techniques to measure calcium signaling and arteriolar diameter in the neurovascular unit (neurons, astrocytes, arteriolar smooth muscle and endothelium) in brain slices as well as CBF in vivo, electrophysiological techniques to measure membrane currents and membrane potential of astrocytes, smooth muscle and endothelial cells from parenchymal arterioles. Arteriolar diameter is also measured in isolated pressurized parenchymal arterioles. A number of genetic mouse models are used to unravel control mechanisms.  Relevant ion channels in smooth muscle, endothelium and astrocytes are being explored, including voltage-dependent calcium channels, inward rectifier potassium channels, calcium-sensitive BK, IK, SK channels, voltage-dependent potassium channels, ATP-sensitive potassium channels, TRPV4 channels, ryanodine receptor channels, IP3R channels, and P2X1 receptor channels. The ultimate objectives are to understand the basic mechanisms for ion channel control of local cerebral blood flow, peripheral resistance and urinary bladder function, and using this information to understand pathologies and possible new therapeutic interventions.

People in the Lab

Recent Publications

For a complete list of Dr. Mark T. Nelson's publications, please visit PubMed.

  1. Baylie R, Ahmed M, Bonev AD, Hill-Eubanks DC, Heppner TJ, Nelson MT, Greenstein AS.  Lack of direct effect of adiponectin on vascular smooth muscle cell BKca channels or Ca2+ signaling in the regulation of small artery pressure-induced constriction.  Physiol Rep.  2017 Aug; 5(16).  doi 10.14814/phy2.13337.  PMID:  28830977, PMCID:  PMC5582259
  2. Hawkins VE, Takakura AC, Trinh A, Malteiros-Lima MR, Cleary CM, Wenker IC, Dubreuil T, Rodriguez EM, Nelson MT, Moreira TS, Mulkey DK.  Purinergic regulation of vascular tone in the retrotrapezoid nucleus is specialized to support the drive to breathe.  ELife.  2017 Apr 6;  6.  doi:  10.7554/2Life.25232.  PMID:  28387198, PMCID:  PMC5422071
  3. Longden TA, Dabertrand F, Koide M, Gonzales Al, Tykocki NR, Brayden JE, Hill-Eubanks DC, Nelson MT.  Capillary K+ sensing initiates retrograde hyperpolarization to increase local blood flow.  Nat Neuroscience, 2017 May;  (20)5:  717-726.  doi:  10.1038/nn.4533.  Journal Cover.  PMID:  28319610, PMCID:  PMC5404963
  4. Tykocki NR, Bonev AD, Longden TA, Heppner TJ, Nelson MT.  Inhibition of vascular smooth muscle inward-rectifier K+ channels restores myogenic tone in the mouse urinary bladder arterioles.  AM J Physiol Renal Physiol.  2017 Feb 1, doi:  10.1162/ajprenal.00682.2016.  PMID:  28148533, PMCID:  PMC5210346
  5. Bosetti F, Galis ZS, Bynoe MS, Charette M, Cipolla MJ, Del Zoppo GJ, Gould D, Hatsukami TS, Jones TL, Koenig JI, Lutty GA, Maric-Bilkan C, Stevens T, Tolunay HE, Koroshetz W, et al.  "Small Blood Vessels:  Big Health Problems", Workshop Participants.  J Am Heart Assoc.  2016 Nov 4; 5(11),  doi: 10.1161/JAHA.16.004389.  POMID:  27815267
  6. Khavandi K, Baylie RL, Sugden SA, Ahmed A, Csato V, Eaton P, Hill-Eubanks DC, Bonev AD, Nelson MT, Greenstein AS.  Pressure-induced oxidative action of PKG enables vasoregulation by Ca2+ sparks and BK channels.  Sci Signal.  2016 Oct 11;  9(449):  ra100,  doi:  10.1126/scisignal.aaf6625.  PMID:   27729550,  PMCID:  MC5154376.  Editorial Science Signaling Focus (Hill MA and Braun AP).  Oxidant signaling underlies PKGIsparks and BKca in myogenically active arterioles, Sci Signal.  9, fs15(2016) featured in the same issue. 
  7. Dalsgaard T, Sonkusare SK, Teucher C, Poynter ME, Nelson MT.  Pharmacological inhibitors of TRPV4 channels reduce cytokine production, restore endothelial function and increase survival in septic mice.  Sci Rep. 2016 Sep 22; 6:  33841, doi:  10.1038/srep33841.  PMID:  27653046,  PMCID:  PMC5031985
  8. Capone C, Dabertrand F, Baron-Menguy C, Chalaris A, Ghezali L, Domenga-Denier V, Schmidt S, Huneau C, Rose-John S, Nelson MT, Joutel A.  Mechanistic insights into a TIMP3-sensitive pathway constitutively engaged in the regulation of cerebral hemodynamics.  Elife, 2016 Aug 1, doi:  10.754/eLife.17536.  PMID: 27476853                                                                  
  9. Mah W, Sonkusare SK, Wang T, Azeddine B, Pupavac M, Carrot-Zhang J, Hong K, Mejewski J, Harvey EJ, Russell L, Chalk C, Rosenblatt DS, Nelson MT, Sequin C.  Gain-of-function mutation in TRPV4 identified in patients with osteonecrosis of the femoral head.  J Med Genet.  2016 June 21, doi:  10.1136/jmedgenet-2016-103829.  PMID:  27330106. 
  10. Povlsen GK, Longden TA, Bonev AD, Hill-Eubanks DC, Nelson MT.  Uncoupling neurovascular communication after transient global cerebral ischemia is caused by impaired parenchymal smooth muscle Kir channel function.  J Cereb Blood Flow Metab.  2016 Apr 6, doi:  10.1177/0271678X16638350.  PMID:  27052838, PMCID:  PMC4929704.                                                                                                                        
  11. Gonzalez EJ, Heppner TJ, Nelson MT, VIzzard MA.  Purinergic signalling underlies transforming growth factor-beta mediated bladder afferent nerve hyperexcitability.  J Physiol.  2016 Mar 23, doi:  10.1113/JP272148.  PMID:  27006168, PMCID:  PMC4929319.  
  12. Heppner TJ, Tykocki NR, Hill-Eubanks D, Nelson MT.  Transient contractions of urinary bladder smooth muscle are drivers of afferent nerve activity during filling.  J Gen Physiol.  2016 Mar 14, doi:  10.1085/jgp.201511550.  PMID:  26976828, PMCID:   PMC4810069.                                                                                                                                                                           

Honors and Awards

  • 2018 Keynote Speaker, Society of Urodynamics and Female Urology Annual Meeting SUFU 2018, Austin, TX
  • 2017 Keynote Speaker, International Symposium on Resistance Arteries 2017, Manchester, UK
  • 2017 The First Kathryn M. Gauthier, Endowed Lecture, Medical College of Wisconsin, Milwaukee, WI
  • 2016 Fellow, Vermont Academy of Arts and Sciences
  • 2016 Keynote Speaker, FASEB Smooth Muscle Conference, Lisbon, Portugal
  • 2016 Vermont Academy of Arts and Sciences, Fellowship
  • 2015 Thomas C. Vary Distinguished Lecture, University of Pennsylvania, Hershey, PA
  • 2015 Keynote Speaker, Society of General Physiologists Symposium on Macromolecular Local Signaling Complexes, Marine Biological Laboratory, Woods Hole
  • 2015 American Physiological Society, Annual Reviews Award for Scientific Reviewing
  • 2015 Kaley Lecture, Experimental Biology 2015, Boston MA, sponsored by APS Cardiovascular Section and the Microcirculation Society
  • 2013 Keynote Speaker, 6th International Conference on cGMP, Erfurt, Germany
  • 2012 Society of General Physiologists Traveling Scholar Award, Harvard University
  • 2012 15th Annual James W. Fisher Distinguished Lectureship in Pharmacology, Tulane University, New Orleans, LA
  • 2012 Keynote Speaker, FASEB Smooth Muscle Conference, Snowmass Village, CO
  • 2011 Astor Lecturer, University of Oxford, Department of Pharmacology
  • 2009 Swift Memorial Lecture, Columbia University, Department of Physiology and Cellular Biophysics
  • 2009 Lamport Lecture, University of Washington, Department of Physiology and Biophysics
  • 2009- University Distinguished Professor, University of Vermont
  • 2009- Fellow, The Biophysical Society
  • 2009 5th David F. Bohr Lecture on Vascular Smooth Muscle, 10th International Symposium on Mechanisms of Vasodilation
  • 2008 Graduate Student's Choice Speaker of the Year, Department of Pharmacology & Toxicology, University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences, Little Rock, AR
  • 2008 Graduate Student's Choice Speaker of the Year, Student Research Day, University of New Mexico School of Medicine Biomedical Sciences Graduate Program, Albuquerque, NM
  • 2006 Distinguished Lecturer, North West Universities of England; The Universities of Liverpool and Manchester
  • 1998- Member, Vermont Academy of Sciences and Engineering
  • 1996 University Scholar, University of Vermont
  • 1985-1990 Established Investigator, American Heart Association


National Institutes of Health
1R01HL121706-01A1, Regulation of myoendothelial function by signaling microdomains in hypertension, PI M.T. Nelson 

National Institutes of Health       2/1/16-1/31/20

1R01HL131181/1-4, K+ sensing & electrical signaling by Kir channels in the brain vasculature", PI M.T. Nelson
National Institutes of Health
R37 DK53832, Ca2+ sparks and urinary bladder smooth muscle excitability, PI: M.T. Nelson.
National Institutes of Health
UM1HL120877, Analysis and Characterization of Trauma-Induced Coagulopathy, PI K.G. Mann, M.T. Nelson Lead Project 12 and Co-I Project 1
Totman Medical Research Trust
Cerebrovascular Research, PI: M.T. Nelson.
Fondation Leducq
Pathogenesis of Small Vessel Disease of the Brain. North American Coordinator, M.T. Nelson; European Coordinator, A. Joutel (Paris).
European Union 1/1/2016 - 12/31/2020666881 Horizon 2020, Small vessel disease in a mechanistic perspective: Targets for intervention, PI for WP1, Co-PI for WP2-5 (Partnering with 11 Europenan Institutions)