Brian Cairns



Department of Pharmaceutical Sciences


Web page: Directory listing



B.Sc. in Biochemistry & Chemistry, University of British Columbia

B.Sc. in Pharmacy , University of British Columbia

ACPR, Hospital Pharmacy Residency, VGH

PhD in Neurophysiology , University of British Columbia



  • Craniofacial pain
  • Sex-related differences

Research Interests

The laboratory investigates basic mechanisms that underlie the development and maintenance of craniofacial pain, in particular pain associated with temporomandibular disorders. A major focus of the research is to identify receptors in deep craniofacial tissues, such as the teeth, temporomandibular (jaw) joint and masticatory muscles, that may provide novel targets for the development of analgesics to treat this pain. Many pain disorders that affect the craniofacial region occur much more commonly in women than in men. A second major focus of the laboratory is to investigate biological mechanisms that may contribute to sex-related differences in craniofacial pain conditions.


Selected Publications

Peripheral Receptor Targets for Analgesia: Novel Approaches to Pain ManagementCairns BE, ed. John Wiley and Sons Inc.: Hoboken, NJ, 2009, 573 pages.

Dong X-D, Svensson P, Cairns BE. The analgesic action of topical diclofenac
may be mediated through peripheral NMDA receptor antagonism. Pain

Cairns BE, Gazerani P. Sex-related differences in pain. Maturitis 2009;63(4):292-296.

Hakim AW, Dong X-D, Svensson P, Kumar U, Cairns BE. TNFalpha Mechanically Sensitizes Masseter Muscle Afferent Fibers of Male Rats. J Neurophysiol 2009 102:1551-1559.

Baad-Hansen l, Cairns BE, Ernberg M, Svensson P.  Effect of systemic
monosodium glutamate (MSG) on headache and pericranial muscle sensitivity.
Cephalalgia  2010;30:68-76.

Svensson P, Castrillon EE, Cairns BE. Nerve growth factor-evoked masseter muscle sensitization and perturbation of jaw motor function in healthy women. J Orofac Pain 2008;22:340-348.

Castrillon EE, Cairns BE, Ernberg M, Wang W, Sessle BJ, Arendt-Nielsen L, Svensson P. Effect of peripheral NMDA receptor blockade with ketamine on chronic myofascial TMD pain. J Orofac Pain 2008;22:122-130.

Castrillon EE, Cairns BE, Ernberg M, Wang W, Sessle BJ, Arendt-Nielsen L, Svensson P. Glutamate-evoked jaw muscle pain as a model of persistent myofascial TMD pain? Arch Oral Biol 2008;53:666-676.

Cairns BE, Mann MK, Mok E, Dong XD, Svensson P. Diclofenac exerts local anesthetic-like actions on rat masseter muscle afferent fibers. Brain Res 2008;1194: 56–64.

Sung D, Dong XD, Ernberg M, Kumar U, Cairns BE. Serotonin (5-HT) excites rat masticatory muscle afferent fibers through activation of peripheral 5-HT3 receptors. Pain 2008;134:41-50.

Cairns BE. The influence of gender and sex steroids on craniofacial nociception. Headache. 2007;47:319-324.

Dong XD, Mann MK, Kumar U, Svensson P, Arendt-Nielsen L, Hu JW, Sessle BJ, Cairns BE. Sex-related differences in glutamate evoked rat muscle nociceptor discharge result from estrogen-mediated modulation of peripheral NMDA receptors. Neuroscience 2007; 146(2):822-832.

Cairns BE, Dong XD, Mann MK, Svensson P, Sessle BJ, Arendt-Nielsen L, McErlane KM. Systemic administration of monosodium glutamate elevates intramuscular glutamate levels and sensitizes rat masseter muscle afferent fibers. Pain 2007; 132(1-2):33-41.

Mann MK, Dong XD, Svensson P, Cairns BE. Influence of intramuscular nerve growth factor injection on the response properties of rat masseter muscle afferent fibers. J Orofacial Pain 2006; 20: 325-336.

Gazerani P, Wang K, Cairns BE, Svensson P, Arendt-Nielsen L. Subcutaneous glutamate-evoked pain, sensitization and vasomotor responses in human skin. Pain 2006; 124: 338-348.

Cairns BE, Svensson P, Wang K, Castrillon E, Hupfeld S, Sessle B, Arendt-Nielsen L. Ketamine attenuates glutamate-induced mechanical sensitization of the masseter muscle in men. Exp Brain Res. 2006; 169(4):467-472.

Gambarota G, Philippens M, Cairns BE, Dong XD, Renema WK, Heerschap A. MRS assessment of glutamate clearance in a novel masticatory muscle pain model. NMR Biomed. 2005;18:345–351.

Lam DK, Sessle BJ, Cairns BE, Hu JW. Neural mechanisms of temporomandibular joint and masticatory muscle pain: A possible role for peripheral glutamate receptor mechanisms. Pain Res Manag 2005; 10:145-152.



Associate Professor & Canada Research Chair in Neuropharmacology