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PLoS One. 2010 Oct 29;5(10):e13774. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0013774.

Behavioral, medical imaging and histopathological features of a new rat model of bone cancer pain.

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Department of Physiology and Biophysics, Université de Sherbrooke, Sherbrooke, Quebec, Canada.


Pre-clinical bone cancer pain models mimicking the human condition are required to respond to clinical realities. Breast or prostate cancer patients coping with bone metastases experience intractable pain, which affects their quality of life. Advanced monitoring is thus required to clarify bone cancer pain mechanisms and refine treatments. In our model of rat femoral mammary carcinoma MRMT-1 cell implantation, pain onset and tumor growth were monitored for 21 days. The surgical procedure performed without arthrotomy allowed recording of incidental pain in free-moving rats. Along with the gradual development of mechanical allodynia and hyperalgesia, behavioral signs of ambulatory pain were detected at day 14 by using a dynamic weight-bearing apparatus. Osteopenia was revealed from day 14 concomitantly with disorganization of the trabecular architecture (µCT). Bone metastases were visualized as early as day 8 by MRI (T(1)-Gd-DTPA) before pain detection. PET (Na(18)F) co-registration revealed intra-osseous activity, as determined by anatomical superimposition over MRI in accordance with osteoclastic hyperactivity (TRAP staining). Pain and bone destruction were aggravated with time. Bone remodeling was accompanied by c-Fos (spinal) and ATF3 (DRG) neuronal activation, sustained by astrocyte (GFAP) and microglia (Iba1) reactivity in lumbar spinal cord. Our animal model demonstrates the importance of simultaneously recording pain and tumor progression and will allow us to better characterize therapeutic strategies in the future.

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