Thomson, Chris

Dr. Christine Thomson, DVM, Ph.D., DACVIM, DECVN

Associate Professor Veterinary Medicine


  • BVSc (Hons) - Melbourne, 1983
  • PhD - Glasgow, 1992
  • DipACVIM(Neurol) – 1995
  • DipECVN- 1999

General aims of teaching

I aim to teach:

  • With the students’ end point in mind, thus helping them to see the relevance of what they are learning. This applies to both undergraduate and postgraduate students.
  • In a way that allows the students to build on and use that knowledge throughout their career. In anatomy, I teach functional/applied/clinical anatomy, thus moving away from the classical/structural approach. I use clinical problems in my preclinical teaching to demonstrate context and application. I build on their knowledge of functional anatomy when teaching clinically.
  • Students to become independent, life-long learners.

Post graduate neurology teaching »

  • Massey University, Master in Veterinary Medicine, Paper 118.756 Canine and Feline Neurology, 2013-2014, invited to teach again in 2015-2016
  • ACVIM/ECVN Veterinary Neuroscience and Advanced Clinical Neurology/Neurosurgery Course. This course caters for 120+ participants from around the world, including neurology residents preparing for their Board exams and practising veterinary neurologists wanting to update their knowledge.
    • July 2014, Faculty of Veterinary Medicine, University of Bologna, Italy
    • July 2012, College of Veterinary Medicine, University of Georgia, USA
    • July 2010, Faculty of Veterinary Medicine, University of Bologna, Italy
    • July 2008, North Carolina State University, College of Veterinary Medicine, USA
    • July 2006, North Carolina State University, College of Veterinary Medicine, USA

I have also given invited papers at international and national neurology and veterinary conferences (AVA, ESVN, WSAVA, BSAVA and ACVIM) as well as local veterinary groups. Additionally I have been teaching continuing professional development courses in neurology since 1989, both in the UK and Australasia.

Research projects and aims

My research career has been in neuroscience, initially in the field of myelin and astrocytes and latterly, focusing on fundamental neurobiology as studied in neural cell cultures.

I studied the interaction between the major myelin protein gene, P0 of the Schwann cell and the axon during my PhD. From 1995 – 2006, my research was in the neurobiology of myelin formation, primarily in the central nervous system (CNS). In the last decade, I have been identifying factors required for neural cell growth and myelination in vitro and developing cell culture models of CNS myelination.

1) Fundamental neurobiology and myelination

For the last ten years I have been working on in vitro models of CNS myelination.

a) Spinal cord models

  • I have now developed two models of mammalian spinal cord myelination that at both the molecular and morphological levels mimic in vivo myelination, see Thomson et al, 2006 and 2008.
  • We have used the in vitro spinal cord model to study the effect of various cytokines on myelination. These studies are relevant to inflammatory diseases of the CNS, such as multiple sclerosis. This model has been used to address questions in neurobiology (e.g. the role of astrocytes in myelination, gene expression in neurons and myelin), neurotoxicity and neuroprosthetic research (see publications section).

b) Forebrain models

  • Despite more than 60 years of cell culture in neurosciences, the creation of a reliable, repeatable cell culture model of the forebrain, which has robust myelination and synapse formation, has been elusive. Such a model of forebrain myelination will have widespread use in many areas of neuroscience research including fundamental neurobiology, disease pathogenesis and therapy. Currently, much of this research has to be done in vivo with implications for animal ethics and welfare.
  • Identifying the requirements for neuronal survival and myelination in vitro may have relevance to optimizing remyelination in vivo after demyelinating diseases such as multiple sclerosis. Beginning in November 2008, with Dr. Sarah Todd, we initiated a project to establish an in vitro model of myelinating brain tissue. The aim was to use the model to investigate the effects of proteins such as found in Alzheimer’s disease and other neurodegenerative diseases. However, the development of the model has been challenging. I am still continuing these cell culture studies and the results are now encouraging. Initially, we could not get primary, neuronal-glial cultures to survive beyond two weeks. They are now surviving for six weeks plus and are producing significant, healthy myelin sheaths.

2) The role of astrocytes in myelination.

My work in section 1 has identified that astrocytes have a critical role in myelin formation. Prof. Susan Barnett (Glial Cell Biology, University of Glasgow) and I had a joint PhD student funded by the Multiple Sclerosis Society, UK to study whether activated astrocytes, such as occur in multiple sclerosis, affect remyelination.

3) Nanoneuro interfaces.

Nanomaterials are being investigated for their ability to interface with biological systems for diagnostic and therapeutic purposes. In conjunction with Dr. Rylie Green, Biomedical Engineering, University of New South Wales, Australia we are working to develop in vitro models for assessing a new generation of brain-machine interfaces or neuroprosthetics.

  • Many groups researching in this area with in vitro models use neuronal cell lines, however such cultures do not mimic the neuraxis in vivo. They have abnormal neurons and do not produce myelin or synapses and thus are of limited value.
  • Development of new, biocompatible materials is needed for brain-machine interfaces. Current technology using metal electrodes implanted into the brain begins to fail after 12-24 months due to interface degradation.
  • We are using my method of culturing myelinating, synapsing cultures of the CNS (spinal cord) with Dr. Green’s conducting polymers, aiming to develop a bidirectional electrical interface. This work is being undertaken by a joint doctoral student.»



  • Thomson CE, Hahn C. ‘Veterinary Clinical Neuroanatomy: A Clinical Approach.’ Elsevier-Saunders, 2012. The book is aimed at undergraduate and postgraduate veterinarians and veterinary ancillary staff. It is both a general introductory text to functional neuroanatomy, exemplified by clinical conditions, as well as containing detailed neuroanatomy for people with a special neurology interest. See Appendix for comments from the senior commissioning editor re this book, and the Amazon website for reviews Reprint in progress.

Refereed Journals

Journal impact factor and number of citations at the end of reference (x/x)

  • Page KM, Reavley NJ, Milner AJ, Weston J, Thomson CE, Tchernitskaia I, LaMontagne AD (2014) Workplace mental health strategies for organisations in the veterinary sector. In press: Australian Veterinary Journal. (1.067/0)
  • Gilmour AD, Green RA, Thomson CE (2013) A low maintenance, primary cell culture model for the assessment of carbon nanotube toxicity. Toxicological and Environmental Chemistry. DOI10.1080/02772248.2013.844429 (0.723/0)
  • MacKay, RJ, Wyer, S, Gilmour, A,» Kongara, K, Harding, DR, Clark S, Mayhew IG, Thomson CE. (2013) Cytotoxic activity of extracts from Hypochaeris radicata. Toxicon, 70:194-203. (2.766/0)
  • Nash B, Thomson CE, Linington C, Arthur AT, McClure JD, McBride MW, and Barnett SC. (2011) Functional duality of astrocytes in myelination. The Journal of Neuroscience, 31(37)13028-13038. (7.87/23)
  • Eisenbach M, Karvelishvily E, Eshed Y, Watkins T, Sorensen A, Thomson CE, Ranscht B, Barnett, SC, Barres BA, Brophy P and Peles E. (2009) Differential clustering of Caspr by oligodendrocytes and Schwann cells. J. Neuroscience Research. 87(15):3492-501. (2.256/5)
  • Thomson, CE, McCulloch, M, Sorenson, A, Barnett SC, Seed BV, Griffiths IR, McLaughlin M (2008). Myelinated, synapsing cultures of murine spinal cord: Validation as an in vitro model of the central nervous system. European Journal of Neuroscience. European Journal of Neuroscience, 28, 1518-1535 (3.928/20)
  • Sorensen A, Moffet K, Thomson CE, Barnett SC (2008). Astrocytes, but not olfactory ensheathing cells or Schwann cells, promote myelination of CNS axons in vitro. Glia, 56, 7, 750-763 (5.374/30)
  • Golan N, Adamsky K, Kartvelishvily E, Brockschnieder D, M»bius W, Spiegel I, Roth AD, Thomson CE, Rechavi G, Peles, E (2008) Identification of Tmem10/Opalin as an oligodendrocyte enriched gene using expression profiling combined with genetic cell ablation. Glia, 56, 7, 1176-1186 (5.374/12)
  • Edgar JM, McCulloch MC, Thomson CE, Griffiths IR (2008).» Distribution of mitochondria along small diameter myelinated CNS axons. Journal of Neuroscience Research, 86, 10:2250-2257 (2.256/14)
  • Thomson CE, Hunter AM, McCulloch M, (2006) Murine spinal cord explants: a model for evaluating axonal growth and myelination in vitro. Journal of Neuroscience Research, 84, 1703-1715 (2.256/19)
  • Andrews H, White K, Thomson C, Edgar J, Bates D, Griffiths I , Turnbull D, Philip Nichols (2006) Increased axonal mitochondrial activity as an adaptation to myelin deficiency in the Shiverer mouse. Journal of Neuroscience Research 83(8), 1533-9 (2.256/34)
  • McLaughlin M, Barrie JA, Karim S, Montague P, Edgar JM, Kirkham D, Thomson» CE, Griffiths IR. (2006) Processing of PLP in a model of Pelizaeus-Merzbacher disease/SPG2 due to the rumpshaker mutation. Glia, 53, 715-722 (5.374/11)
  • Thomson CE, Vouyiouklis DA, Barrie JA, Wease KN, Montague P (2005). Plp gene regulation in the developing murine optic nerve: correlation with oligodendroglial process alignment along the axons. Developmental Neuroscience, 27, 27-36 (2.995/4)
  • Penderis J, Schwarz T, McConnell JF, Garosi LS, Thomson CE, Dennis R (2005). Dysplasia of the caudal vertebral articular facets in four dogs: radiographic, myelographic and MR imaging findings. The Veterinary Record, 156, 601-605. (1.633/5)
  • McLaughlin M, Hunter DJB, Thomson CE, Yool D, Kirkham D, Freer AA, Griffiths IR (2002) Evidence for possible interactions between PLP and DM20 within the myelin sheath. Glia, 39(1) 31-36
  • Long S, Anderson J, Thomson C, (2002). The treatment of status epilepticus in dogs. UK Vet. 7(7) 25-32
  • Long S, Anderson J, Thomson C, (2002) Lumbosacral spinal cord disease. UK Vet. 7(4) 73-78
  • Long S, Anderson J, Thomson C, (2002) Wobbler Syndrome: a review and update, UK Vet. 7(3) 45-49
  • Long S, Anderson J, Thomson C, (2002) Neurology Case Study. UK Vet. 7(1) 77-80
  • Long S, Anderson J, Thomson C (2001) Spinal cord localisation-I. UK Vet. 6(2) 72-76
  • Long S, Anderson J, Thomson C (2001) Spinal cord localisation-II. UK Vet. 6(6) 74-78
  • Thomson CE, Griffiths IR (2000). Imprinting as a technique for assessing the morphology of the central nervous system by immunofluorescence. J. Neuroscience Methods. 100:85-91(2.413/0)
  • Vouyiouklis DA, Barrie J, Griffiths IR and Thomson CE (2000) A proteolipid protein- (PLP)- specific pre-mRNA contains Intron 3 and is up-regulated during myelination in the CNS. J. Neurochem. 74:940-948 (4.022/14)
  • Anderson TJ, Klugmann M, Thomson CE, Schneider A, Readhead C, Nave K-A, Griffiths IR (1999) Distinct phenotypes associated with increasing dosage of the Plp gene: implications for CMT1A due to Pmp22 gene duplication.» Ann.N.Y.Acad.Sci. 883:234-246 (4.313/24)
  • Thomson CE, Anderson TJ, McCulloch MC, Dickinson P, Griffiths IR (1999) The early phenotype associated with the jimpy mutation of the proteolipid protein gene. J.Neurocytol. 28:207-221 (2.623/16)
  • Griffiths IR, Klugmann M, Anderson TJ, Yool D, Thomson CE, Schwab MH, Schneider A, Zimmermann F, McCulloch MC, Nadon NL, Nave K-A (1998) Axonal swellings and degeneration in mice lacking the major proteolipid of myelin.» Science 280:1610-1613 (34.463/428)
  • Griffiths IR, Klugmann M, Anderson TJ, Thomson CE, Vouyiouklis DA, Nave K-A (1998) Current concepts of PLP and its role in the nervous system.» Microsc.Res.Tech. 41:344-35 (1.593/78)
  • Vouyiouklis DA, Werner H, Griffiths IR, Stewart GJ, Nave K-A, Thomson CE (1998) Molecular cloning and transfection studies of M6b-2, a novel splice variant of a member of the PLP-DM20/M6 gene family. J.Neurosci.Res. 52:633-640 (2.256/7)
  • Montague P, Barrie JA, Thomson CE, Kirkham D, McCallion AS, Davies RW, Kennedy PGE, Griffiths IR (1998) Cytoskeletal and nuclear localization of MOBP polypeptides.» Europ.J.Neurosci. 10:1321-1328 (3.928/18)
  • Thomson CE, Montague P, Jung M, Nave K-A, Griffiths IR, Nave KA (1997) Phenotypic severity of murine Plp mutants reflects in vivo and in vitro variations in transport of PLP isoproteins.» Glia 20:322-332 (5.374/37)
  • Thomson CE, Griffiths IR, McCulloch MC, Kyriakides E, Barrie JA, Montague P (1993) In vitro studies of axonally-regulated Schwann cell genes during Wallerian degeneration.» J.Neurocytol. 22:590-602 (2.623/23)
  • Thomson, CE,» Kornegay» JN, Burn RA, Drayer BP, Hadley DM, Levesque DC, Gainsburg LA, Lane SB, Sharp NJH,» & Wheeler SJ (1993). Magnetic resonance imaging - a general overview of principles and examples in veterinary neurodiagnosis.»» Veterinary Radiology & Ultrasound» »34, 2-17. (1.262/71)
  • Dukes-McEwan J, Thomson C E, Sullivan M, Callanan S & Park M (1992).» Thoracic calcinosis circumscripta causing cord compression in two German Shepherd dog littermates.» Veterinary Record, 130, 575-578 (1.633/13)
  • Toews AD, Griffiths IR, Kyriakides E, Goodrum JF, Eckermann CE, Morell P, Thomson CE (1992) Primary demyelination induced by exposure to tellurium alters Schwann cell gene expression: a model for intracellular targeting of NGF receptor.» J.Neurosci. 12:3676-3687 (7.87/32)
  • Morrison S, Mitchell LS, Ecob-Prince MS, Griffiths IR, Thomson CE, Barrie JA, Kirkham D (1991) P0 gene expression in cultured Schwann cells.» J.Neurocytol. 20:769-780 (2.623/23)
  • Thomson CE, Mitchell LS, Griffiths IR, Morrison S (1991) Retarded Wallerian degeneration following peripheral nerve transection in C57BL/6/Ola mice is associated with delayed down-regulation of the P0 gene. Brain Research 538:157-160 (2.957/19)
  • Thomson CE, Kornegay JN, Stevens JB (1989) Canine intervertebral disc disease: Inflammatory changes in the cerebrospinal fluid. Journal of Small Animal Practice, 30, 685-688 (0.907/19)
  • Thomson CE, Kornegay JN, Stevens JB (1989) Cerebrospinal fluid in canine neurologic disease: Comparison of fluid from the cerebellomedullary and lumbar cisterns.» Journal of the American Veterinary Medical Association, 196, 1841-1844 (1.95/37)