Berke, M. S., Fensholdt, L. K. D., Hestehave, S. et al. 2022. Effects of buprenorphine on model development in an adjuvant-induced monoarthritis rat model. PLoS ONE 17(1), e0260356.
Complete Freund’s adjuvant (CFA)-induced arthritis in rats is a common animal model for studying chronic inflammatory pain. However, modelling of the disease is associated with unnecessary pain and impaired animal wellbeing, particularly in the immediate post-induction phase. Few attempts have been made to counteract these adverse effects with analgesics. The present study investigated the effect of buprenorphine on animal welfare, pain-related behaviour and model-specific parameters during the disease progression in a rat model of CFA-induced monoarthritis. The aim was to reduce or eliminate unnecessary pain in this model, in order to improve animal welfare and to avoid suffering, without compromising the quality of the model. Twenty-four male Sprague Dawley rats were injected with 20 μl of CFA into the left tibio-tarsal joint to induce monoarthritis. Rats were treated with either buprenorphine or carprofen for 15 days during the disease development, and were compared to a saline-treated CFA-injected group or a negative control group. Measurements of welfare, pain-related behaviour and clinical model-specific parameters were collected. The study was terminated after 3 weeks, ending with a histopathologic analysis. Regardless of treatment, CFA-injected rats displayed mechanical hyperalgesia and developed severe histopathological changes associated with arthritis. However, no severe effects on general welfare were found at any time. Buprenorphine treatment reduced facial pain expression scores, improved mobility, stance and lameness scores and it did not supress the CFA-induced ankle swelling, contrary to carprofen. Although buprenorphine failed to demonstrate a robust analgesic effect on the mechanical hyperalgesia in this study, it did not interfere with the development of the intended pathology.