Objective and Quantitative Evaluation of Spontaneous Pain-Like Behaviors Using Dynamic Weight-Bearing System in Mouse Models of Postsurgical Pain

J Pain Res. 2022 Jun 2;15:1601-1612. doi: 10.2147/JPR.S359220. eCollection 2022.


Background: The paucity of objective and reliable measurements of pain-like behaviors has impeded the translatability of mouse models of postsurgical pain. The advanced dynamic weight-bearing (DWB) system enables evaluation of spontaneous pain-like behaviors in pain models. This study investigated the suitability and efficiency of the DWB system for assessing spontaneous pain-like behaviors and analgesic therapies in murine models of postsurgical pain.

Methods: Male adult C57BL/6JJcl mice were subjected to multiple surgical pain models with distinct levels of invasiveness, including a superficial incisional pain model involving only hind paw skin incision, deep incisional pain model that also involved incision and elevation of the underlying hind paw muscles, and orthopedic pain model involving tibial bone fracture and fixation with a pin (fracture and pinning [F/P] model). Spontaneous pain-like behaviors post-surgery were evaluated using weight distribution, pawprint area of the operated paw in the DWB system, and guarding pain score. Mechanical hypersensitivity was assessed using the von Frey test. The therapeutic effects of analgesics (diclofenac and buprenorphine for the deep incision model and diclofenac for the F/P model) were evaluated using the DWB system and von Frey test.

Results: The von Frey test demonstrated contradictory results between superficial and deep incisional pain models. The DWB system captured weight distribution changes in the operated hind paw, in accordance with the invasiveness and time course of wound healing in these surgical pain models. The reduction in weight-bearing on the operated paw correlated with guarding score, degree of paw swelling, and local expression of inflammatory mediators. DWB enabled accurate evaluation of the pharmacological effects of analgesics for detecting attenuation of surgery-induced weight-bearing changes in these models.

Conclusion: The DWB system serves as an objective and reliable method for quantifying pain-like behaviors and evaluating the therapeutic effects of analgesics in mouse models of postsurgical pain models.

Keywords: animal models; dynamic weight-bearing; incisional pain; orthopedic pain; postoperative pain; surgery.

Grant support

This work was supported by JSPS KAKENHI (grant Number 20K17821).