Conditioned pain modulation in rodents can feature hyperalgesia or hypoalgesia depending on test stimulus intensity


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Abstract

The counterirritation phenomenon known as conditioned pain modulation, or diffuse noxious inhibitory control in animals, is of increasing interest due to its utility in predicting chronic pain and treatment response. It features considerable interindividual variability, with large subsets of pain patients and even normal volunteers exhibiting hyperalgesia rather than hypoalgesia during or immediately after receiving a conditioning stimulus. We observed that mice undergoing tonic inflammatory pain in the abdominal cavity (the conditioning stimulus) display hyperalgesia, not hypoalgesia, to noxious thermal stimulation (the test stimulus) applied to the hindpaw. In a series of parametric studies, we show that this hyperalgesia can be reliably observed using multiple conditioning stimuli (acetic acid and orofacial formalin), test stimuli (hindpaw and forepaw-withdrawal, tail-withdrawal, hot-plate, and von Frey tests) and genotypes (CD-1, DBA/2, and C57BL/6 mice and Sprague-Dawley rats). Although the magnitude of the hyperalgesia is dependent on the intensity of the conditioning stimulus, we find that the direction of effect is dependent on the effective test stimulus intensity, with lower-intensity stimuli leading to hyperalgesia and higher-intensity stimuli leading to hypoalgesia.

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