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Braz J Med Biol Res. 2005 Jan;38(1):73-80. Epub 2005 Jan 18.

The terrestrial Gastropoda Megalobulimus abbreviatus as a useful model for nociceptive experiments: effects of morphine and naloxone on thermal avoidance behavior.

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  • 1Laboratório de Histofisiologia Comparada, Departamento de Ciências Morfológicas, Instituto de Ciências Básicas da Saúde, Universidade Federal do Rio Grande do Sul, Porto Alegre, RS, Brazil.


We describe the behavior of the snail Megalobulimus abbreviatus upon receiving thermal stimuli and the effects of pretreatment with morphine and naloxone on behavior after a thermal stimulus, in order to establish a useful model for nociceptive experiments. Snails submitted to non-functional (22 degrees C) and non-thermal hot-plate stress (30 degrees C) only displayed exploratory behavior. However, the animals submitted to a thermal stimulus (50 degrees C) displayed biphasic avoidance behavior. Latency was measured from the time the animal was placed on the hot plate to the time when the animal lifted the head-foot complex 1 cm from the substrate, indicating aversive thermal behavior. Other animals were pretreated with morphine (5, 10, 20 mg/kg) or naloxone (2.5, 5.0, 7.5 mg/kg) 15 min prior to receiving a thermal stimulus (50 degrees C; N = 9 in each group). The results (means +/- SD) showed an extremely significant difference in response latency between the group treated with 20 mg/kg morphine (63.18 +/- 14.47 s) and the other experimental groups (P < 0.001). With 2.5 mg/kg (16.26 +/- 3.19 s), 5.0 mg/kg (11.53 +/- 1.64 s) and 7.5 mg/kg naloxone (7.38 +/- 1.6 s), there was a significant, not dose-dependent decrease in latency compared to the control (33.44 +/- 8.53 s) and saline groups (29.1 +/- 9.91 s). No statistically significant difference was found between the naloxone-treated groups. With naloxone plus morphine, there was a significant decrease in latency when compared to all other groups (minimum 64% in the saline group and maximum 83.2% decrease in the morphine group). These results provide evidence of the involvement of endogenous opioid peptides in the control of thermal withdrawal behavior in this snail, and reveal a stereotyped and reproducible avoidance behavior for this snail species, which could be studied in other pharmacological and neurophysiological studies.

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