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Papers of the Week

Papers: 15 Jul 2023 - 21 Jul 2023

Basic Science

Animal Studies, Neurobiology

Neuropathic Pain

2023 Jul 09



Spared nerve injury causes motor phenotypes unrelated to pain in mice.


Norris MR, Dunn SS, Aravamuthan BR, McCall JG


Most animal models of neuropathic pain use targeted nerve injuries quantified with motor reflexive measures in response to an applied noxious stimulus. These motor reflexive measures can only accurately represent a pain response if motor function in also intact. The commonly used spared nerve injury (SNI) model, however, damages the tibial and common peroneal nerves that should result in motor phenotypes (i.e., an immobile or “flail” foot) not typically captured in sensory assays. To test the extent of these issues, we used DeepLabCut, a deep learning-based markerless pose estimation tool to quantify spontaneous limb position in C57BL/6J mice during tail suspension following either SNI or sham surgery. Using this granular detail, we identified the expected flail foot-like impairment, but we also found SNI mice hold their injured limb closer to the body midline compared to shams. These phenotypes were not present in the Complete Freunds Adjuvant model of inflammatory pain and were not reversed by multiple analgesics with different mechanisms of action, suggesting these SNI-specific phenotypes are not directly related to pain. Together these results suggest SNI causes previously undescribed phenotypes unrelated to altered sensation that are likely underappreciated while interpreting preclinical pain research outcomes.