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Nat Protoc. 2007;2(10):2624-31.

Assessment of colon sensitivity by luminal distension in mice.

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  • 1Department of Anesthesiology, Center for Pain Research, University of Pittsburgh Medical Center, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania 15261, USA.


Colorectal distension (CRD) is a widely used and reliable method for evaluating colon sensitivity in unanesthetized animals, including humans. Hollow organ distension is a mechanical stimulus that replicates in humans the sensation and pattern of referral of their visceral pain. In animals, CRD has been employed to evaluate drug efficacy, strain, sex or genetic differences and changes in colon sensitivity after inflammation or irritation of the distal colon. Responses to CRD are measured as electromyographic (EMG) recordings of the abdominal musculature, termed the visceromotor response. This protocol will provide sufficient detail to allow an investigator to surgically prepare a mouse for CRD, construct distending balloons, distend the colon, and accumulate and analyze data from EMG recordings; examples are also provided to illustrate typical experimental outcomes. CRD recording sessions are typically 2 h in duration.

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