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Neuroscience PhD at Wake Forest University at Wake Forest University

Wake Forest University Graduate School » Neuroscience PhD at Wake Forest University

Wayne Silver

Wayne Silver
Our research interest is in the chemical senses: taste, smell, and chemesthesis. My current focus is on the receptors responsible for the detection of chemesthetic stimuli. Chemesthesis is the sense of irritation caused by chemicals and mediated by the somatosensory system. In vertebrates, chemesthesis is linked to the trigeminal nerve, which innervates the eye, nose, and mouth. Examples of chemesthesis include the stinging of ammonia and the burning of horseradish and chili peppers. Transient Receptor Potential (TRP) channels have been shown to detect irritants and contribute to chemesthesis. For example, TRPV1 is activated by capsaicin (found in chili peppers) and TRPA1 is activated by allyl isothiocyanate (found in wasabi). We have recently begun using two invertebrate models to study chemesthesis. We use behavioral, physiological and genetic techniques to study how fruit flies and earthworms respond to irritant chemicals.


  • Chemesthesis and comparative physiology of the chemical senses
  • Article from ChemoSense Vol 2. November 1999   Chemesthesis: The burning questions
  • Article from ChemoSense Vol 4. March 2002   Chemesthesis: Hot and cold mechanisms
  • Article from ChemoSense Vol 10. October 2008   TRP channels and chemosensation


Tizzano, M., Gulbransen, B.D., Vandenbeuch, A., Clapp, T.R., Herman, J.P., Sibhatu, H.M., Churchill, M.E.A., Silver, W.L., Kinnamon, S.C., and Finger, T.E. (2010) Nasal chemosensory cells use bitter taste signaling to detect irritants and bacterial signals. Proc Natl Acad Sci USA 107:3210-3215. Silver, W.L. and Finger, T.E. (2009) Anatomical and Electrophysiological Basis of Peripheral Nasal Trigeminal Chemoreception. Ann. N.Y. Acad. Sci. 1170:202-205.Gulbransen, B., Silver, W., and Finger, T. (2008) Solitary chemoreceptor cell survival is independent of intact trigeminal innervation. J. Comp. Neurol 508:62-71. Silver W.L. Clapp T.R., Stone L.M., and Kinnamon, S.C. (2006) TRPV1 Receptors and Nasal Trigeminal Chemesthesis. Chem. Senses 31:807-812. Finger T.E., Bottger B., Hansen A., Anderson K.T., Alimohammadi H., and Silver W.L. (2003) Solitary chemoreceptor cells in the nasal cavity serve as sentinels of respiration. Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 100:8981-6.Schaefer, M.L., Bottger, B., Silver, W.L., and Finger, T.E. (2002) Trigeminal collaterals in the nasal epithelium and olfactory bulb: A potential route for direct modulation of olfactory information by trigeminal stimuli. J. Comp. Neurol. 444: 221-226. Finger, T.E., Silver, W.L. and Restrepo, D. (editors) (2000) Neurobiology of Taste and Smell 2nd Edition . Wiley-Liss, Inc. 479 pp. Bryant, B. and Silver, W.L. (2000) Chemesthesis: The common chemical sense. In T.E. Finger, W.L. Silver, and D. Restrepo. (editors) Neurobiology of Taste and Smell 2nd Edition . Wiley-Liss, Inc. 479 pp. 73-100.  Silver, W.L. and Browne, C.L.. (2000) Integration of laboratory exercises in development and neurobiology courses using the Xenopus oocyte expression system. J. Industrial Microbiol. Biotech. 24:353-358. Alimohammadi, H. and Silver, W.L. (2000) Evidence for nicotinic acetylcholine receptors on nasal trigeminal nerve endings of the rat. Chem. Senses 1:61-66. Major, D.A. and Silver, W.L. (1999) Odorants presented to the rat nasal cavity increase cortical blood flow. Chem. Senses 24:665-669. Walker, J.C., Kendal-Reed, M., Keiger, C.J., Bencherif, M. and Silver, W.L. (1996) Olfactory and trigeminal responses to nicotine. Drug Dev. Res. 38: 160-168. Farley, L.G. and Silver, W.L. (1992) Self- and Cross-adaptation to chemical stimulation of the nasal trigeminal nerve in the rat. Chem. Senses 17: 507-518. Silver, W.L., Farley, L.G. and Finger, T.E. (1991) The effects of neonatal capsaicin administration on trigeminal nerve chemoreceptors in the rat nasal cavity. Brain Res. 212-216.