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Pain. 2004 Jun;109(3):214-24.

Decrease in non-selective, non-sustained attention induced by a chronic visceral inflammatory state as a new pain evaluation in rats.

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  • 1INSERM/UdA E 9904, Laboratoire de Pharmacologie Médicale, Faculté de Médecine, 63001 Clermont-Ferrand Cedex 1, France.


The aim of this study was to develop a new behavioral pain test based on the evaluation of cognitive capacity impairments in rats with colitis and to determine the impact of different acute analgesic treatments. Colitis was induced in rats by an enema containing 2,4,6-trinitrobenzen sulfonic acid. Visual non-selective, non-sustained attentional level was assessed by a new behavioral testing procedure. Animals were familiarized on three consecutive days with an open field containing four small, similar, familiar objects. On the day of testing, one of the objects was randomly replaced by a new one. Attentional level was determined by the ability of the rat to perceive this small modification to its familiar environment. The effect of morphine, acetaminophen, aspirin or ibuprofen treatment was assessed on testing day and compared with that observed during a Von Frey test to assess referred tactile hypersensitivity of the skin of the lower back. Rats with colitis had decreased attentional level but no change in their locomotor activity, interest in the environment or memory encoding. Morphine (1 mg/kg, s.c. and 10 microg/rat, i.t.) and acetaminophen (200 mg/kg, p.o.) had a beneficial effect on attentional level and on referred tactile hypersensitivity. Testing for the latter showed that aspirin and ibuprofen (400 mg/kg, p.o.) were ineffective. The decrease in visual non-selective, non-sustained attention induced by chronic inflammatory painful state can be relieved by effective analgesic treatments. This finding could lead to the development of a new behavioral test to assess spontaneous pain in chronic painful subjects.

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