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Influence of social interaction on nociceptive-induced changes in locomotor activity in a mouse model of acute inflammatory pain: Use of novel thermal assays

Branden A Smeester, Jang-Hern Lee, Alvin J Beitz
Brain Research Bulletin 2017, 134: 47-54
Most acute and chronic animal models of pain rely heavily on reflexive assays for evaluating levels of nociception, which involves removing the animal from its normal social environment. Here, we examine and characterize the influence of social interactions on inflammatory pain-evoked changes in movement in two different mouse strains. To produce inflammatory nociception, we injected CFA bilaterally into the hind paws of Balb/c and C3H mice and then recorded exploratory locomotor activity using an automated detector system to first evaluate the effects of social behavior on nociception. Secondly, we determined if carprofen administration altered the effects of social behavior on nociceptive-evoked movement. This methodology was expanded to create a novel thermal activity assay to objectively measure the effect of heat and cold on CFA-evoked animal movement in paired animals. Paired Balb/c and C3H mice exhibited significant hyper-locomotion that lasted for 3h post-injection in Balb/c, but only 1h post-injection in C3H. Single Balb/c mice only showed increased activity for 1h post-injection, while single C3H mice showed no increase. This CFA-induced increase in activity in paired animals was highly inversely correlated with mechanical allodynia as measured using standard Von Frey filaments. Carprofen administration completely blocked this CFA-induced hyperlocomotor activity. Both heat and cold induced a significant increase in locomotor activity in paired mice injected with CFA, while having no effect on activity in control mice injected with saline. The results presented here indicate that social interactions greatly influence inflammatory pain-induced changes in locomotor activity and indicate that the use of movement-based assays to evaluate nociception in paired mice may provide an alternative and more sensitive method to quantify nociception and characterize novel analgesic effects over time in the context of social interactions in rodent models of pain.


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