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Burns. 2015 Dec;41(8):1796-1804. doi: 10.1016/j.burns.2015.09.007. Epub 2015 Oct 1.

Prior stress exposure increases pain behaviors in a rat model of full thickness thermal injury.

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Pain Management Research Area, United States Army Institute of Surgical Research, Fort Sam Houston, TX, United States. Electronic address:
Departments of Anesthesiology and Emergency Medicine, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, NC, United States.
Department of Biology, Texas Woman's University, Denton, TX, United States.


Thermal burns among individuals working in highly stressful environments, such as firefighters and military Service Members, are common. Evidence suggests that pre-injury stress may exaggerate pain following thermal injury; however current animal models of burn have not evaluated the potential influence of pre-burn stress. This sham-controlled study evaluated the influence of prior stress exposure on post-burn thermal and mechanical sensitivity in male Sprague-Dawley rats. Rats were exposed to 20 min of inescapable swim stress or sham stress once per day for three days. Exposure to inescapable swim stress (1) increased the intensity and duration of thermal hyperalgesia after subsequent burn and (2) accelerated the onset of thermal hyperalgesia and mechanical allodynia after subsequent burn. This stress-induced exacerbation of pain sensitivity was reversed by pretreatment and concurrent treatment with the serotonin-norepinephrine reuptake inhibitor (SNRI) duloxetine. These data suggest a better understanding of mechanisms by which prior stress augments pain after thermal burn may lead to improved pain treatments for burn survivors.


Allodynia; Burn pain; Hyperalgesia; Stress; Thermal injury

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