Pain research at UCLouvain

Institute of Neuroscience (IONS)

The ability to perceive pain is crucial for survival, but pain is also a major healthcare issue as its treatment constitutes a very problematic challenge for physicians. Because of its aversive quality and its high prevalence, chronic pain affects the quality of life of millions of individuals, and imposes a severe financial burden upon our societies. Therefore, progress in understanding the neural representation of pain in humans is not only important for basic neuroscience research. Indeed, it is also critical to develop effective strategies for the diagnosis and management of pathological pain conditions.

Recent publications

Characterization of vagus nerve stimulation-induced pupillary responses in epileptic patients

Brain Stimulation


Vespa S, Stumpp L, Liberati G, Delbeke J, Nonclercq A, Mouraux A, El Tahry R

A TRPM7 mutation linked to familial trigeminal neuralgia: Omega current and hyperexcitability of trigeminal ganglion neurons

Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A.


Gualdani R, Gailly P, Yuan JH, Yerna X, Di Stefano G, Truini A, Cruccu G, Dib-Hajj SD, Waxman SG.

IMI2-PainCare-BioPain-RCT2 protocol: a randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled, crossover, multicenter trial in healthy subjects to investigate the effects of lacosamide, pregabalin, and tapentadol on biomarkers of pain processing observed by non-invasive neurophysiological measurements of human spinal cord and brainstem activity



Leone C, Di Stefano G, Di Pietro G, Bloms-Funke P, Boesl I, Caspani O, Chapman SC, Finnerup NB, Garcia-Larrea L, Li T, Goetz M, Mouraux A, Pelz B, Pogatzki-Zahn E, Schilder A, Schnetter E, Schubart K, Tracey I, Troconiz IF, Van Niel H, Hernandez JMV, Vincent K, Vollert J, Wanigasekera V, Wittayer M, Phillips KG, Truini A, Treede RD.

Multichannel transcranial direct current stimulation over the left dorsolateral prefrontal cortex may modulate the induction of secondary hyperalgesia, a double-blinded cross-over study in healthy volunteers.

PLoS One


Steyaert A, Lenoir C, Lavand'homme P, van den Broeke EN, Mouraux A.

Investigating the Origin of TMS-evoked Brain Potentials Using Topographic Analysis.

Brain Topography


Sulcova D, Salatino A, Ivanoiu A, Mouraux A.

Chronic temporomandibular disorders are associated with higher susceptibility to developing central sensitization: a case-control study



Cayrol T, van den Broeke EN, Gerard E, Meeus M, Mouraux A, Roussel N, Pitance L.

Pharmacological Probes to Validate Biomarkers for Analgesic Drug Development

Int J Mol Sci


van Niel J, Bloms-Funke P, Caspani O, Cendros JM, Garcia-Larrea L, Truini A, Tracey I, Chapman SC, Marco-Ariño N, Troconiz IF, Phillips K, Finnerup NB, Mouraux A* and Treede RD

Evidence for alterations to dynamic quantitative sensory tests in patients with chronic temporomandibular myalgia: A systematic review of observational studies with meta-analysis

J Oral Rehabil


Cayrol T, Meeus M, Aron V, Gatto C, Mouraux A, Roussel NA, Sallaz L, van den Broeke EN, Pitance L.

No evidence for an effect of selective spatial attention on the development of secondary hyperalgesia: a replication study

Front Hum Neurosci


Della Porta D, Vila ML, Kuzminova A, Filbrich L, Mouraux A, Legrain V.

Olfactory dysfunction predicts frailty and poor postoperative outcome in older patients scheduled for elective non-cardiac surgery

J Nutr Health Aging


Van Regemorter V, Dollase J, Coulie R, Stouffs AD, de Saint-Hubert M, Mouraux A, Huart C.

Prdm12 modulates pain-related behavior by remodeling gene expression in mature nociceptors.



Latragna A, Sabaté San José A, Tsimpos P, Vermeiren S, Gualdani R, Chakrabarti S, Callejo G, Desiderio S, Shomroni O, Sitte M, Kricha S, Luypaert M, Vanhollebeke B, Laumet G, Salinas G, Smith ESJ, Ris L, Bellefroid EJ.

IMI2-PainCare-BioPain-RCT1: study protocol for a randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled, crossover, multi-center trial in healthy subjects to investigate the effects of lacosamide, pregabalin, and tapentadol on biomarkers of pain processing observed by peripheral nerve excitability testing (NET).



Nochi Z, Pia H, Bloms-Funke P, Boesl I, Caspani O, Chapman SC, Fardo F, Genser B, Goetz M, Kostenko AV, Leone C, Li T, Mouraux A, Pelz B, Pogatzki-Zahn E, Schilder A, Schnetter E, Schubart K, Stouffs A, Tracey I, Troconiz IF, Truini A, Van Niel J, Vela JM, Vincent K, Vollert J, Wanigasekera V, Wittayer M, Tankisi H, Finnerup NB, Phillips KG, Treede RD.

Neuroscience research pain research EEG postoperative pain sensitization spinal cord neuroinflammation TMS EEG laser-evoked potentials research neuropathic

Basic, translational and clinical pain research at the Institute of Neuroscience (IoNS). Better understanding the neural processes underlying the perception of pain and developing novel means to diagnose and manage chronic pain conditions constitutes the core objective of several research groups and clinicians within our institute.

Research group led by André Mouraux (IONS/COSY)

Using non-invasive functional neuroimaging techniques such as electroencephalography (EEG) and functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI), combined with novel techniques to selectively activate specific classes of nociceptive afferents, the research performed by the team of André Mouraux follows two main axes. First, to understand how the human brain processes nociceptive sensory input and how this leads to the perception of pain. Second, to understand the plastic changes in nociceptive pathways that occur after inflammation, injury or sustained nociceptive input that induce peripheral and central sensitization and may underlie the development of chronic pain in humans.

Research group led by Valéry Legrain (IONS/COSY)

The main research interest of the team led by Valery Legrain is to understand the cognitive mechanisms modulating the link between nociception and the conscious perception of pain, and the neurobiological substrates of these cognitive mechanisms. Different approaches are used: neurophysiology (event-related brain potentials), cognitive psychology (mental chronometry) and neuropsychology (investigation of patients with sensory-motor or attentional deficits).

Research group led by Giulia Liberati (IONS/COSY)

The group of Giulia Liberati aims to characterize how transient and sustained pain are represented in the human brain, taking advantage of the high temporal and spatial resolution of intracerebral electroencephalography (iEEG). She is particularly interested in investigating the role of the human insula in nociception and pain perception, as several findings suggest that this brain region plays a crucial role in the integration of sensory, affective, and cognitive dimensions of pain.

Research team led by Emmanuel Hermans (IONS/CEMO)

The research group of Prof. Emmanuel Hermans has a long-standing expertise in the use of animal models to study the neuroinflammation and plastic changes of the central nervous system induced by neurotrauma, and its involvement in the development of neuropathic pain. His laboratory has experience in the production of animal models of neuropathic pain, the techniques used to study the pain behaviour of these animals, and the immune-histological techniques to characterize the glial activation and changes in nociceptive pathways at peripheral, spinal and supra-spinal level.

Clinical pain research at the University Hospital

At the Cliniques universitaires Saint Luc, the Department of Anaesthesiology is involved in several clinical research projects focusing on the problematic of chronic post-operative pain. The multidisciplinary Chronic Pain Consultation led by Prof. Anne Berquin is involved in clinical research projects aiming at improving the multidisciplinary management of patients with chronic pain, including the development of new psychophysical techniques to assess patients with neuropathic pain, new bio-psycho-social approaches for the care of patients with chronic regional pain syndrome and chronic widespread pain.


Institute of Neuroscience (IoNS)

53 Avenue Mounier, B1200, Brussels, Belgium

+32(0)2 764 54 47

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