David Stirling, PhD

Photo of David Stirling, PhD
  1. Associate Professor, Department of Neurological Surgery
  2. Associate Professor, Department of Microbiology & Immunology, Anatomical Sciences & Neurobiology

Laboratory: Advanced Optical Imaging

Phone: 502-852-8054
Email David Stirling

Research Focus:

The Stirling laboratory uses advanced optical imaging techniques (e.g., two-photon spectral microscopy) to investigate intrinsic and extrinsic mechanisms of white matter degeneration in living tissue following trauma to the nervous system.  A major thrust in the laboratory is to understand the role of microglia, the immunocompetent cells of the CNS, and blood-derived immune cells (neutrophils and monocytes) in central myelinated fiber degeneration following spinal cord injury (SCI).  Utilizing two-photon intravital microscopy to image genetically encoded fluorescent proteins in these cells, his team tracks, quantifies, and interrogates the role of neuroinflammation in SCI pathophysiology as these dynamic events are unfolding in real time. Second, his team also focuses on intrinsic mechanisms of central myelinated fiber injury following trauma utilizing a combination of in vivo and ex vivo live spinal cord preparations to visualize the dynamic response of spinal axons to injury in real time. Techniques instrumental to our research include advanced optical imaging, flow cytometry, cellular, molecular, biochemical, and behavioural analyses.

It is hoped that the new knowledge gained from these basic science studies will uncover key mediators that play a role in axon and myelin damage, and pave the way for therapeutic interventions to promote tissue sparing and improve neurological outcome following human SCI. (Click this link for more research information)

Click to view all of Dr. Stirling's publications on PubMed

Recent Publications:

1.         Casha S, Rice T, Stirling DP, Silva C, Gnanapavan S, Giovannoni G, Hurlbert RJ, Yong VW. Cerebrospinal Fluid Biomarkers in Human Spinal Cord Injury from a Phase II Minocycline Trial. Journal of neurotrauma. 2018;35(16):1918-28. Epub 2018/08/04. doi: 10.1089/neu.2018.5899. PubMed PMID: 30074872.

2.         Pelisch N, Gomes C, Nally JM, Petruska JC, Stirling DP. Differential expression of ryanodine receptor isoforms after spinal cord injury. Neuroscience letters. 2017;660:51-6. Epub 2017/09/14. doi: 10.1016/j.neulet.2017.09.018. PubMed PMID: 28899787.

3.         Orem BC, Pelisch N, Williams J, Nally JM, Stirling DP. Intracellular calcium release through IP3R or RyR contributes to secondary axonal degeneration. Neurobiology of disease. 2017;106:235-43. Epub 2017/07/16. doi: 10.1016/j.nbd.2017.07.011. PubMed PMID: 28709993.

4.         Stivers NS, Pelisch N, Orem BC, Williams J, Nally JM, Stirling DP. The toll-like receptor 2 agonist Pam3CSK4 is neuroprotective after spinal cord injury. Experimental neurology. 2017;294:1-11. Epub 2017/04/27. doi: 10.1016/j.expneurol.2017.04.012. PubMed PMID: 28445714.

5.         Herrity AN, Petruska JC, Stirling DP, Rau KK, Hubscher CH. The effect of spinal cord injury on the neurochemical properties of vagal sensory neurons. American journal of physiology Regulatory, integrative and comparative physiology. 2015;308(12):R1021-33. Epub 2015/04/10. doi: 10.1152/ajpregu.00445.2014. PubMed PMID: 25855310; PMCID: PMC4469926.

6.         Okada SL, Stivers NS, Stys PK, Stirling DP. An ex vivo laser-induced spinal cord injury model to assess mechanisms of axonal degeneration in real-time. Journal of visualized experiments : JoVE. 2014(93):e52173. Epub 2014/12/10. doi: 10.3791/52173. PubMed PMID: 25490396; PMCID: PMC4354288.

7.         Plemel JR, Wee Yong V, Stirling DP. Immune modulatory therapies for spinal cord injury--past, present and future. Experimental neurology. 2014;258:91-104. Epub 2014/07/16. doi: 10.1016/j.expneurol.2014.01.025. PubMed PMID: 25017890.

8.         Herrity AN, Rau KK, Petruska JC, Stirling DP, Hubscher CH. Identification of bladder and colon afferents in the nodose ganglia of male rats. The Journal of comparative neurology. 2014;522(16):3667-82. Epub 2014/05/23. doi: 10.1002/cne.23629. PubMed PMID: 24845615; PMCID: PMC5853118.

9.         Stirling DP, Cummins K, Wayne Chen SR, Stys P. Axoplasmic reticulum Ca(2+) release causes secondary degeneration of spinal axons. Annals of neurology. 2014;75(2):220-9. Epub 2014/01/08. doi: 10.1002/ana.24099. PubMed PMID: 24395428.

10.       Stirling DP, Cummins K, Mishra M, Teo W, Yong VW, Stys P. Toll-like receptor 2-mediated alternative activation of microglia is protective after spinal cord injury. Brain : a journal of neurology. 2014;137(Pt 3):707-23. Epub 2013/12/27. doi: 10.1093/brain/awt341. PubMed PMID: 24369381.

11.       Lau LW, Keough MB, Haylock-Jacobs S, Cua R, Doring A, Sloka S, Stirling DP, Rivest S, Yong VW. Chondroitin sulfate proteoglycans in demyelinated lesions impair remyelination. Annals of neurology. 2012;72(3):419-32. Epub 2012/10/05. doi: 10.1002/ana.23599. PubMed PMID: 23034914.

12.       Stirling DP, Stys PK. Mechanisms of axonal injury: internodal nanocomplexes and calcium deregulation. Trends in molecular medicine. 2010;16(4):160-70. Epub 2010/03/09. doi: 10.1016/j.molmed.2010.02.002. PubMed PMID: 20207196; PMCID: PMC2976657.

13.       Stirling DP, Liu S, Kubes P, Yong VW. Depletion of Ly6G/Gr-1 leukocytes after spinal cord injury in mice alters wound healing and worsens neurological outcome. The Journal of neuroscience : the official journal of the Society for Neuroscience. 2009;29(3):753-64. Epub 2009/01/23. doi: 10.1523/JNEUROSCI.4918-08.2009. PubMed PMID: 19158301; PMCID: PMC6665178.

14.       Stirling DP, Liu J, Plunet W, Steeves JD, Tetzlaff W. SB203580, a p38 mitogen-activated protein kinase inhibitor, fails to improve functional outcome following a moderate spinal cord injury in rat. Neuroscience. 2008;155(1):128-37. Epub 2008/06/20. doi: 10.1016/j.neuroscience.2008.05.007. PubMed PMID: 18562123.

15.       Stirling DP, Yong VW. Dynamics of the inflammatory response after murine spinal cord injury revealed by flow cytometry. Journal of neuroscience research. 2008;86(9):1944-58. Epub 2008/04/29. doi: 10.1002/jnr.21659. PubMed PMID: 18438914.

16.       Yong VW, Agrawal SM, Stirling DP. Targeting MMPs in acute and chronic neurological conditions. Neurotherapeutics : the journal of the American Society for Experimental NeuroTherapeutics. 2007;4(4):580-9. Epub 2007/10/09. doi: 10.1016/j.nurt.2007.07.005. PubMed PMID: 17920539.

17.       Stirling DP, Koochesfahani KM, Steeves JD, Tetzlaff W. Minocycline as a neuroprotective agent. The Neuroscientist : a review journal bringing neurobiology, neurology and psychiatry. 2005;11(4):308-22. Epub 2005/08/03. doi: 10.1177/1073858405275175. PubMed PMID: 16061518.