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Papers of the Week

Papers: 6 Mar 2021 - 12 Mar 2021

Animal Studies

2021 Mar 06

Eur J Neurosci

Characterization of acute pain-induced behavioral passivity in mice: insights from statistical modeling.


Yeung S C, Ganesan K, Wong S S C, Chung S K, Cheung C W
Eur J Neurosci. 2021 Mar 06.
PMID: 33675141.


Affective-motivational disturbances are highly inconsistent in animal pain models. The reproducibility of the open-field test in assessing anxiety, malaise, or disability remains controversial despite its popularity. While traumatic, persistent, or multi-regional pain models are commonly considered more effective in inducing negative affect or functional impairment, the early psychobehavioral changes before pain chronification are often underexplored. Here, we aimed to clarify the fundamental relationship between hypernociception and passive distress-like behavior using a model of transient inflammatory pain. To minimize latent confounders and increase data consistency, male C57BL/6N mice were habituated to the open-field arena 6 times before receiving the unilateral intraplantar injection of prostaglandin E2 (PGE2) or vehicle. Open-field (40-minute exploration) and nociceptive behavior were evaluated repeatedly along the course of hypernociception in both wild-type and transgenic mice with a known pronociceptive phenotype. To reduce subjectivity, multivariate open-field behavioral outcomes were analyzed by statistical modeling based on exploratory factor analyses, which yielded a 2-factor solution. Within 3 hours after PGE2 injection, mice developed significantly reduced center exploration (factor 1) and a marginally significant increase in their habituation tendency (factor 2), which were not apparent in vehicle-injected mice. The behavioral passivity generally improved as hypernociception subsided. Therefore, transient inflammatory irritation is sufficient to suppress mouse open-field exploratory activity. The apparent absence of late affective-motivational changes in some rodents with prolonged hypernociception may not imply a lack of preceding or underlying neuropsychological alterations. Procedural pain after invasive animal experiments, however small, should be assessed and adequately controlled as a potential research confounder.