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Journal of neuroscience methods

The CatWalk method: a detailed analysis of behavioral changes after acute inflammatory pain in the rat.


PMID 17382401

Abstract

Experimental pain research is often complicated by the absence of an objective and detailed method to analyze behavioral changes. In the present study, acute pain was induced into the right knee of the rat (n=15) through the injection of 2mg carrageenan (CAR) in saline. A control group received vehicle injection into the knee (n=15). With the use of an automated quantitative gait analysis system, the CatWalk, it was possible to quantitatively analyze behavioral changes at post-injection time 2.5, 4, 24 and 48h. The CatWalk analysis of individual paw parameters like the intensity of the paw print or the time contact with the floor showed a significant effect after CAR injection into the knee. These CatWalk parameters were highly correlated with von Frey data and thus representative for the development of mechanical allodynia. Furthermore, detailed CatWalk analysis of the gait (i.e. coordinated interaction between left and right hindlimb) showed very fine, accurate and significant coordination changes in the experimental rats from 4h post-injection. In conclusion, the CatWalk method allows an objective and detailed detection of both pain-induced gait adaptations as well as the development of mechanical allodynia in an acute inflammatory pain model.