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Exp Brain Res. 2013 Jul;228(3):305-12. doi: 10.1007/s00221-013-3563-8. Epub 2013 May 17.

Evaluation of lateral spinal hemisection as a preclinical model of spinal cord injury pain.

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  • 1Department of Neuroscience, College of Medicine, University of Florida, Gainesville, FL 32610-0244, USA.


Operant escape from nociceptive thermal stimulation of 13 Long-Evans rats was compared before and after lateral spinal hemisection, to determine whether this lesion configuration provides an appropriate preclinical model of the hyperalgesia that can be associated with human spinal cord injury. Escape from 44 °C and from 47 °C stimulation was not affected following sham spinal surgery but was significantly reduced over 20 weeks of postoperative testing following lateral spinal hemisection. This result is opposite to previous reports of enhanced reflex withdrawal in response to thermal stimulation of rats following lateral spinal hemisection. In addition, the latency of reflexive lick/guard responses to 44 °C was increased and the duration of lick/guard responding was decreased in the present study (hyporeflexia). Thus, previous assessments of simple withdrawal reflexes have described a hyperreflexia following lateral spinal hemisection that was not replicated by lick/guard testing, and postoperative escape responding revealed hypoalgesia rather than the increased pain sensitivity expected in a model of chronic pain.

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