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European Journal of Pain

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Hyperalgesia -- chemically induced



Social interactions with subjects experiencing pain can increase nociceptive sensitivity in observers, even without direct physical contact. In previous experiments, extended indirect exposure to soiled bedding from mice with alcohol withdrawal-related hyperalgesia enhanced nociception in their conspecifics. This finding suggested that olfactory cues could be sufficient for nociceptive hypersensitivity in otherwise untreated animals (also known as “bystanders”).


The current study addressed this possibility using an inflammation-based hyperalgesia model and long- and short-term exposure paradigms in C57BL/6J mice.

Materials & Method

Adult male and female mice received intraplantar injection of complete Freund's adjuvant (CFA) and were used as stimulus animals to otherwise naïve same-sex bystander mice (BS). Another group of untreated mice (OLF) was simultaneously exposed to the bedding of the stimulus mice.


In the long-term, 15-day exposure paradigm, the presence of CFA mice or their bedding resulted in reduced von Frey threshold but not Hargreaves paw withdrawal latency in BS or OLF mice. In the short-term paradigm, 1-hr interaction with CFA conspecifics or 1-hr exposure to their bedding induced mechanical hypersensitivity in BS and OLF mice lasting for 3 hrs. Chemical ablation of the main olfactory epithelium prevented bedding-induced and stimulus mice-induced mechanical hypersensitivity. Gas chromatography-mass spectrometry (GC-MS) analysis of the volatile compounds in the bedding of experimental mice revealed that CFA-treated mice released an increased number of compounds indicative of disease states.


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