Neuropathic pain refers to pain that originates from pathology of the nervous system. Diabetes, infection (herpes zoster), nerve compression, nerve trauma, and autoimmune diseases are examples of diseases that may cause neuropathic pain. Unfortunately no satisfactory treatment is yet available for this type of pain. This consideration has led to an explosion of interest for the underlying mechanisms, accompanied by a growing number of animal models. In recent years, most of the neuropathic pain models initially developed in the rat have been translated to mice in order to exploit the resource represented by genetically modified mice. Obviously the most useful animal models of pain would be ones in which the etiology of the pain would be endogenous and not induced by the experimenters: together with the classic models based on peripheral nerve ligation, in the last years other techniques are being developed that mimic more closely clinical pain syndromes, often by attempting to induce the disease associated to neuropathic pain. Although several variables must be taken into account when using animal models for mimicking clinical neuropathic pain, the huge number of models that are now reproducible and well characterized should help to reach important goals in the comprehension of mechanisms and to discover novel therapeutic target for this disease.
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