Animal models of visceral pain have gained much attention as an important tool to elucidate the possible mechanisms underlying functional gastrointestinal (GI) disorders. Here we report the development of a new, minimally invasive behavioral model of abdominal pain induced by ip administration of neostigmine in mice. Spontaneous behavioral responses evoked by ip injection of neostigmine were compared to pain-related behaviors induced by acetic acid solution (ip), mustard oil (MO) and capsaicin (both ic). Pain behaviors were quantified by assessment of defined postures (licking of the abdomen, stretching, squashing of the abdomen and abdominal contractions). Neuronal activation of spinal cord was measured by determining the number of c-Fos-positive cells. Neostigmine (2.5 μg/kg, ip), acetic acid solution (ip), MO and capsaicin (both ic) induced spontaneous behavioral responses in mice, which were blocked by morphine (3 mg/kg, ip), suggesting the involvement of pain signaling pathways. Injection of neostigmine enhanced c-Fos expression in spinal cord neurons. The neostigmine model represents a new minimally invasive mouse model to study visceral pain. Based on the neuronal activation pattern in the spinal cord we suggest that this model may be used to study abdominal pain signaling pathways in the GI tract.
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