Chan, G., Si, C., Nichols, M. R. et al. 2022. Assessment of the safety and efficacy of pre-emptive use of extended-release buprenorphine for mouse laparotomy. JAALAS 61(4), 381-387.

Buprenorphine is commonly used to control postoperative pain in rodents. Short-acting formulations of buprenorphine (bup-HCl) require frequent handling and restraint of animals for appropriate dosing, which can be stressful and confound research outcomes. Ethiqa XR (bup-ER) is an FDA-indexed extended-release buprenorphine formulation that is an alternative to bup-HCl in mice and rats. In the current study, we first evaluated the pharmacokinetics of bup-ER in male C57BL/6J mice by sampling blood at 10 time points, ranging from 30 min to 72 h after administration (n = 3 mice per time point). Average plasma concentrations fell below therapeutic levels at 48 h after administration. We also evaluated the safety of bup-ER when administered prior to surgery in combination with common anesthetics and the efficacy of bup-ER in mouse laparotomy. Anesthetic safety was studied by measuring respiratory rate, rectal temperature, and recovery time in groups of mice (n = 8) given bup-HCl, bup-ER, or saline in combination with isoflurane or ketamine-xylazine anesthesia. No differences were seen between analgesic treatment groups with either of the general anesthetics. To evaluate efficacy, mice (n = 10) were randomly allocated to receive either bup-ER (3.25 mg/kg) once presurgically, bup-HCl (0.1 mg/kg) presurgically and then every 8 h, or saline once before surgery. Mice underwent a sham laparotomy and were assessed for pain based on changes in weight, cageside ethogram, nesting consolidation test, rearing frequency, and nociception to von Frey testing at 6, 12, 24, 48, and 72 h after surgery. Cageside ethogram, rearing frequency, and von Frey testing showed significant differences between bup-ER-treated mice and saline controls in the early postoperative period. No significant effects between treatment groups were seen in daily weights or nesting consolidation scores. This study demonstrates that bup-ER can be safely administered before surgery and provides analgesia for up to 48 h after administration based on pharmacokinetic and behavioral data.

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