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J Neurosci. 1994 May;14(5 Pt 1):2708-23.

Behavioral evidence of trigeminal neuropathic pain following chronic constriction injury to the rat's infraorbital nerve.

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Department of Neurology, Massachusetts General Hospital, Charlestown.


Video recordings of free behavior and responses to mechanical facial stimulation were analyzed to assess whether chronic constriction injury (CCI) to the rat's infraorbital nerve (IoN) results in behavioral alterations indicative of neuropathic pain. A unilateral CCI was produced by placing loose chromic gut ligatures around the IoN. After CCI to the IoN, rats exhibited changes in both non-evoked and evoked behavior. Behavioral changes developed in two phases. Early after CCI (postoperative days 1-15), rats showed increased face-grooming activity with face-wash strokes directed to the injured nerve territory, while the responsiveness to stimulation of this area was decreased. Later after CCI (postoperative days 15-130), the prevalence of asymmetric face grooming was reduced but remained significantly increased compared to control rats. The early hyporesponsiveness was abruptly replaced by an extreme hyperresponsiveness: all stimulus intensities applied to the injured nerve territory evoked the "maximal" response (brisk head withdrawal, avoidance behavior plus directed face grooming). This response was never observed in control rats. Concurrently, IoN ligation rats showed a limited increase in the responsiveness to stimulation of the contralateral IoN territory, and around postoperative days 30-40 the responsiveness to stimulation of facial areas outside the IoN territories also increased. The hyperresponsiveness to stimulation of the ligated IoN territory slightly decreased from 60 d postoperative. Throughout the study, IoN ligation rats showed decreased exploratory behavior, displayed more freezing-like behavior, had a slower body weight gain, and a higher defecation rate, compared to control rats. The behavioral alterations observed after CCI to the IoN are indicative of severe sensory disturbances within the territory of the injured nerve: mechanical allodynia develops after a period of relative hypo-/anesthesia during which behavioral signs of recurrent spontaneous, aversive (possibly painful) sensations (paresthesias/dysesthesias) are maximal.

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