Stewart, L. A., Imai, D. M., Beckett, L. et al. 2020. Injection-site reactions to sustained-release meloxicam in Sprague–Dawley rats. JAALAS 59(6), 726-731.
An extended-release formulation of the NSAID meloxicam (MSR) is used to provide 72 h of continuous analgesia in many species, including rodents. Although standard formulations of meloxicam are frequently used in rats with no observable injection-site reactions, the potential adverse effects from MSR have not been characterized sufficiently nor has a prospective study of these effects been performed in rats. To address this deficiency, we evaluated injection-site reactions after a single subcutaneous administration of MSR (n = 16) or sterile saline (SC, n = 6) in the flank of age- and sex-matched Sprague–Dawley rats. Mass and erythema scores were measured daily for 2 wk, and injection sites were collected for histopathology after euthanasia. Rats were randomly selected for euthanasia at 7 d (n = 12) or 14 d (n = 10) after injection to capture the subacute and chronic phases of mass and erythematic lesion formation. No rats in the SC group developed lesions, whereas all 16 MSR-treated rats developed masses. The median time to first mass in the MSR treatment group was 3 d (95% CI, 2–3 d), and nearly 8 d for erythema (95% CI, 6.7–9.1 d). The trajectory of mass lesion severity showed rapid progression from score 1 at onset (day 2 or 3) to score 2 for almost all animals by day 5 or 6. Histopathology was characterized by localized inflammation with central necrosis and peripheral fibrosis, with some sections showing developing draining tracts. Given the high prevalence and severity of localized skin reactions, MSR analgesia should be considered carefully for Sprague–Dawley rats.