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J Neurotrauma. 2001 Aug;18(8):743-56.

Strain and model differences in behavioral outcomes after spinal cord injury in rat.

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  • 1Department of Anatomy and Neurosciences. University of Texas Medical Branch at Galveston, 77555-1043, USA.


Spinal cord injury (SCI) results in loss of function below the level of injury and the development of chronic central pain (CCP) syndromes. Since different strains may develop and express chronic pain behaviors differently, we evaluated behavioral outcomes (locomotor recovery and the development of mechanical and thermal allodynia) in three commonly used strains of rats (Long-Evans, Wistar, and Sprague-Dawley) using two models of SCI. The two models examined were contusion at T10 (NYU impactor, 12.5 mm height) and the T13 hemisection. Mechanical stimulation (von Frey filaments) revealed significantly lower baseline responses for Long-Evans rats and significantly higher baseline paw withdrawal latencies to thermal stimulation for Wistar rats compared to the other strains. Following contusion SCI, Long-Evans rats had the highest percentage of animals that developed mechanical allodynia (73%), while Sprague-Dawley rats had the highest percentages (75%) following hemisection SCI. Interestingly, the Sprague-Dawley rats had the highest percentage (87%) to develop thermal allodynia following contusion SCI, while 100% of both Long-Evans and Sprague Dawley rats developed thermal allodynia in the hemisection model. Locomotor recovery after SCI was similar for each model in that Long-Evans rats recovered slower and to a lesser extent than the other strains. In each model, Sprague-Dawley rats recovered faster and achieved greater function. Overall, the hemisection model produced a larger percentage of animals that developed CCP and had greater responses to mechanical stimulation. Thus, it appears that strain selection has a greater impact on locomotor recovery and model selection has a greater impact on the development of CCP following SCI. Furthermore, these results suggest that genetic factors may play a role in recovery following SCI.

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