Brake, M. E., Russ, B. P., Gansebom, S. et al. 2023. Effects of extended-release buprenorphine on mouse models of influenza. Comparative Medicine 73(6), 466–473.

Mice are widely used as small animal models for influenza infection and immunization studies because of their susceptibility to many strains of influenza, obvious clinical signs of infection, and ease of handling. Analgesia is rarely used in such studies even if non-study effects such as fight wounds, tail injuries, or severe dermatitis would otherwise justify it because of concerns that treatment might have confounding effects on primary study parameters such as the course of infection and/or the serological response to infection. However, analgesia for study-related or -unrelated effects may be desirable for animal welfare purposes. Opioids, such as extended-release buprenorphine, are well-characterized analgesics in mice and may have fewer immune-modulatory effects than other drug classes. In this study, BALB/c and DBA/2 mice were inoculated with influenza virus, and treatment groups received either no analgesics or 2 doses of extended-release buprenorphine 72 h apart. Clinical signs, mortality, and influenza-specific antibody responses were comparable in mice that did or did not receive buprenorphine. We therefore conclude that extended-release buprenorphine can be used to alleviate incidental pain during studies of influenza infection without altering the course of infection or the immune response.

Animal Type