Rodent model of chronic central pain after spinal cord contusion injury and effects of gabapentin. Academic Article uri icon


  • Spinal cord injury (SCI) often results in abnormal pain syndromes in patients. We present a recently developed SCI mammalian model of chronic central pain in which the spinal cord is contused at T8 using the NYU impactor device (10-g rod, 2.0-mm diameter, 12.5-mm drop height), an injury which is characterized behaviorally as moderate. Recovery of locomotor function was assessed with an open field test and scored using the open field test scale (BBB scale). Somatosensory tests of paw withdrawal responses accompanied by supraspinal responses to both mechanical punctate (von Frey hairs) and nonpunctate (4 mm diameter blunt probe) as well as thermal (radiant heat) peripheral stimuli were performed. Comparisons at the level of the individual animal between precontusion and postcontusion responses indicated significant increases in reactions to low threshold punctate mechanical stimuli, non-punctate stimuli and thermal stimuli (p < 0.05). To demonstrate the validity of this model as a central pain model, gabapentin, an agent used clinically for central pain, was given i.p. at 10 or 30 mg/kg. Gabapentin treatment significantly and reversibly changed the responses, consistent with the attenuation of the abnormal sensory behavior, and the attenuated responses lasted for the duration of the drug effect (up to 6 h). These results support the use of the spinal contusion model in the study of chronic central pain after SCI.

publication date

  • December 2000