Comparison of Thermal and Mechanical Noxious Stimuli for Testing Analgesics in White's Tree Frogs (Litoria caerulea) and Northern Leopard Frogs (Lithobates pipiens)

J Am Assoc Lab Anim Sci. 2021 Nov 1;60(6):687-691. doi: 10.30802/AALAS-JAALAS-21-000010. Epub 2021 Nov 1.


Determining the clinical efficacy of analgesic drugs in amphibians can be particularly challenging. The current study investigated whether a thermal nociceptive stimulus is useful for the evaluation of analgesic drugs in 2 amphibian species. The objectives of this study were 2-fold: 1) compare 2 models of nociception (thermal and mechanical) using 2 frog species; White's Tree Frogs (Litoria caerulea; WTF) and Northern Leopard Frogs (Lithobates pipiens; NLF) after administration of saline or morphine sulfate; and 2) evaluate antinociceptive efficacy of morphine sulfate at 2 doses in a common amphibian research species, the NLF, using a mechanical stimulus. Neither WTF nor NLF displayed consistent drug-dependent changes in withdrawal responses to a noxious thermal stimulus applied using the Hargreaves apparatus, but NLF exposed to the noxious mechanical stimulus demonstrated a significant dose-dependent antinociceptive response to morphine sulfate. These results indicate that morphine is not antinociceptive in WTF, supporting previously reported results, and demonstrate the importance of using an appropriate experimental antinociceptive test in amphibians. Our data suggest that nociception in amphibian species may be best evaluated by using mechanical nociceptive models, although species differences must also be considered.

MeSH terms

  • Analgesics / pharmacology
  • Animals
  • Anura*
  • Morphine* / pharmacology
  • Rana pipiens


  • Analgesics
  • Morphine