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(267) 519-4836
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Bruce Bryant


Senior Research Associate Emeritus, Monell Chemical Senses Center


Ph.D., Sensory Biology; Boston University

Research Summary

Chemical irritants, both noxious (e.g., tear gas or hot pepper) and mild (e.g., menthol or carbonation), act on pain as well as thermal and tactile receptors. I use fluorescence imaging of intracellular calcium in conjunction with cytochemical labeling techniques to characterize the transduction processes and coding mechanisms involved in chemical irritation and modulation of thermal and tactile sensitivities. While these studies focus mostly on the role of neuronal responses, there is growing evidence that non-neuronal cells of the skin and mucous membranes play an active role in sensation. We are also currently performing parallel physiological and psychophysical experiments to directly relate physiological mechanisms to sensation. In addition to contributing to our basic understanding of sensory physiology and interactions between different sensory-active chemical stimuli, knowledge of these mechanisms has applications ranging from foods and beverages to pharmaceuticals and personal care products.


irritation, somatosensation, chemesthesis, trigeminal, fluorescence calcium imaging, neurophysiology, transduction, inflammation, paresthesia, BMS

Recent Publications

Peyrot des Gachons, C; Uchida, K.; Bryant, B. P.; Shima, A.; Sperry, J. B.; Dankulich-Nagrudny, L.; Tominaga, M.; Smith, A. B. III; Beauchamp, G. K. and Breslin, P. A. S. (2011) “Unusual pungency from extra-virgin olive oil is attributable to restricted spatial expression of the receptor of oleocanthal.” Journal of Neuroscience. 31.3, 999-1009.

Bryant, B. P.; Xu, J.; Audige, V.; Lischka, F. W. and Rawson, N. E. (2010) “Cellular basis for the olfactory response to nicotine.” ACS Chemical Neuroscience. 1, 246-56.

Inoue, T. and Bryant, B. P. (2010) “Multiple cation channels mediate increases in intracellular calcium induced by the volatile irritant, trans-2-pentenal in rat trigeminal neurons.” Cellular and Molecular Neurobiology. 30, 35-41.

Borgmann-Winter, K.; Rawson, N. E.; Wang, H. Y.; Wang, H.; MacDonald, M. L.; Ozdener, M. H.; Yee, K. K.; Gomez, G.; Xu, J.; Bryant, B. P.; Adamek, G.; Mirza, N.; Pribitkin, E. A. and Hahn, C. G. (2009) “Human olfactory epithelial cells generated in vitro express diverse neuronal characteristics.” Neuroscience. 158, 642-53.

Bryant, B. P. (2005) “Mechanisms of somatosensory neuronal sensitivity to alkaline pH.” Chemical Senses. 30. Suppl. 1, i196-i197.

Inoue, T. and Bryant, B. P. (2005) “Multiple types of sensory neurons respond to irritating volatile organic compounds (VOCs): Calcium fluorimetry of trigeminal ganglion neurons.” Pain. 117, 193-203.

Epple, G. A.; Bryant, B. P.; Mezine, I. and Lewis, S. (2004) “Zanthoxylum piperitum (DC), a potential feeding deterrent for mammals: studies with Microtus ochrogaster (Wagner).” Pest Management Science. 60, 624-30.