Evaluation of a novel mouse model of intracisternal strychnine-induced trigeminal allodynia

Il Ok Lee, Ryan A. Whitehead, Craig R. Ries, Stephan K.W. Schwarz, Ernest Puil, Bernard A. MacLeod

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

    5 Citations (Scopus)


    Purpose: Intractable neuropathic dynamic allodynia remains one of the major symptoms of human trigeminal neuropathy and is commonly accepted to be the most excruciatingly painful condition known to humankind. At present, a validated animal model of this disorder is necessary for efficient and effective development of novel drug treatments. Intracisternal strychnine in rats has been shown to result in localized trigeminal dynamic allodynia, thus representing a possible model of trigeminal neuralgia. The purpose of this study was to validate a mouse model of trigeminal glycinergic inhibitory dysfunction using established positive (carbamazepine epoxide) and negative (morphine) controls. Methods: The actions of conventional first-line treatment (carbamazepine epoxide [CBZe]) and clinically ineffective morphine were tested for trigeminal dynamic mechanical allodynia produced by intracisternal strychnine. In mice under halothane anesthesia, we injected either strychnine (0.3 μg), strychnine with CBZe (4 ng), or artificial cerebrospinal fluid (aCSF) intracisternally (i.c.). In a separate set of experiments, subcutaneous morphine (3 mg·kg -1 sc) was injected with intracisternal strychnine. Dynamic mechanical allodynia was induced by stroking the fur with polyethylene (PE-10) tubing. The response of each mouse was rated to determine its allodynia score, and scores of each group were compared. In addition, in a separate dichotomous disequilibrium study, pairs of mice were injected with strychnine/saline, strychnine/strychnine-CBZe, or strychnine/strychnine-morphine. A blinded observer recorded which mouse of each pair had the greater global pain behaviour. Results: Strychnine (i.c.) produced higher quantitative allodynia scores in the trigeminal distribution (mean 81.5%; 95% confidence interval [CI] 76.4 to 86.6) vs the aCSF group (mean 11.3%; 95% CI 8.1 to 14.4) (P < 0.0001). Carbamazepine epoxide (i.c.) completely abolished allodynia when co-injected with strychnine (mean 83.2%; 95% CI 78.1 to 88.4) vs strychnine alone (mean 3.2%; 95% CI -0.9 to 7.2) (P < 0.0001). Morphine co-injected with strychnine did not result in reduced allodynia (mean 65.7%; 95% CI 42.0 to 89.4) compared with strychnine alone (mean 87.6%; 95% CI 77.6 to 97.6) (P = 0.16). In a further global allodynia assessment, strychnine (i.c.) produced greater allodynia than both aCSF and strychnine administered with CBZe (P = 0.03). Morphine (ip) administered with strychnine did not result in reduced global allodynia compared with strychnine administered alone (P = 1.0). Conclusion: In this study, we have developed and validated a novel murine model of trigeminal dynamic allodynia induced by intracisternal strychnine. The use of mice to study trigeminal allodynia has many benefits, including access to a vast repository of transgenic mouse variants, ease of handling, low cost, and minimal variance of results. The present model may have utility in screening drug treatments for dynamic mechanical allodynia resulting from trigeminal neuropathies.

    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)780-786
    Number of pages7
    JournalCanadian Journal of Anesthesia
    Issue number8
    Publication statusPublished - 2013 Aug

    Bibliographical note

    Funding Information:
    Acknowledgements We thank Jimmy T.C. Wang for assistance with the experiments. Support was provided in part by the Jean Templeton Hugill Foundation, Canadian Institutes for Health Research, Canadian Foundation for Innovation, UBC Faculty of Medicine, and the Canadian Anesthesiologists’ Society.

    ASJC Scopus subject areas

    • Anesthesiology and Pain Medicine


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