Vendor-derived differences in injury-induced pain phenotype and pharmacology of Sprague-Dawley rats: Does it matter?

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BACKGROUND: Outbred Sprague-Dawley (SD) rats are a commonly used strain in preclinical pain research. Here, we established empirically how SD rats obtained from different vendors might vary in sensitivity to injury and pharmacotherapy.

METHODS: Chronic Constriction Injury (CCI) or complete Freund's adjuvant (CFA) hindpaw inflammation was induced in male SD rats sourced from three to four different vendors, respectively. Neuropathic hypersensitivity was evaluated over 58 days using von Frey filaments, pinprick stimulation and the hot plate test. Pharmacological sensitivity was evaluated by treatment with gabapentin (100 mg/kg, p.o.) or morphine (3 mg/kg, s.c.). CFA-induced hyperalgesia and sensitivity to morphine (0.3-6 mg/kg, s.c.) was measured using a digital Randall-Selitto device. In addition, paw weight gain was used as an index of peripheral oedema.

RESULTS: Significant differences between the vendor-supplied SD rats in relation to onset, magnitude and resolution of hypersensitivity after CCI were observed. Although all sub-strains eventually developed a robust and reversible neuropathic hypersensitivity to mechanical stimulation, the thermal hypersensitivity varied. Whereas pharmacological response to gabapentin varied enormously, the response to morphine was both robust and much more consistent between sub-strains. Despite a similar degree of CFA-induced hypersensitivity, the paw oedema level differed between sub-strains. Here, morphine dose-dependently alleviated the CFA-induced hypersensitivity, with only a subtle difference in sensitivity between sub-strains observed.

CONCLUSIONS: Our data reveal that the source of vendor used to obtain SD rats may be one key factor responsible for 'between laboratory variation' in reproducing sensitivity to some drugs targeting various pathophysiological mechanisms in specific animal pain models.

SIGNIFICANCE: The choice of vendor used to source the same strain of rat for use in preclinical pain research can profoundly affect the level of nociceptive hypersensitivity and response to reference analgesics in neuropathic versus inflammatory models.

Original languageEnglish
JournalEuropean Journal of Pain
Issue number4
Pages (from-to)692-704
Number of pages13
Publication statusPublished - Apr 2017

ID: 169436174