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Environmental enrichment alleviates chronic pain in rats following a spared nerve injury to induce neuropathic pain. A preliminary study

Authors Parent-Vachon M, Vachon P

Received 26 July 2018

Accepted for publication 30 August 2018

Published 10 October 2018 Volume 2018:9 Pages 69—72

DOI https://doi.org/10.2147/VMRR.S181531

Checked for plagiarism Yes

Review by Single-blind

Peer reviewers approved by Dr Colin Mak

Peer reviewer comments 3

Editor who approved publication: Professor Young Lyoo


Madeleine Parent-Vachon, Pascal Vachon

Department of Veterinary Biomedicine, Faculty of Veterinary Medicine, University of Montreal, Saint-Hyacinthe, QC J2S 2M2, Canada

Background: In mice, chronic pain can be alleviated with enriched environments (EEs). The purpose of this preliminary study is to investigate whether pain behaviors in rats with peripheral neuropathy would be altered when keeping these animals in either 1) standard laboratory cages or in 2) a significantly EE.
Methods: Two groups of rats (n=8/group) underwent a spare nerve injury surgery of the right hind leg; one group (n=8) was returned to standard ventilated cages (2 rats/cage), the other (n=8) placed in an EE (8 rats/ferret cage with toys). A third group (n=8) underwent a sham surgery and was used as control. These animals were returned to standard ventilated cages (2 rats per cage). Spare nerve injury surgery consisted of ligation/transection of the tibial and common peroneal branches of the sciatic nerve of the right leg only. Von Frey Filaments were applied to test mechanical sensitivity of both hind paws.
Results: The right paw of nerve-injured animals was hypersensitive to mechanical stimuli at 2, 4, and 8 weeks following the surgery; however, animals in the EE conditions showed significantly (P<0.05) less mechanical sensitivity than rats left in the standard caging environment (2, 4, and 8 weeks postsurgery: standard environment 2.8±0.5, 2.8±0.7, and 2.6±0.4 and EE 4.7±0.6, 5.8±0.5, and 5.5±0.7). Sham animals were unaffected by the surgery.
Conclusion: Environmental enrichment alleviated mechanically induced chronic pain in a spared nerve injury rat model of neuropathic pain. Findings also suggest that environmental enrichment, as a method to alleviate pain, may be species-specific, motor behaviors being a very important parameter when considering pain modulation.

Keywords: environmental enrichment, spare nerve injury, neuropathy, chronic pain, rats

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