The management of patients with neuropathic pain is challenging.There are only a few reports regarding the acute effects of the commonly used adjuvant drugs amitriptyline (AMI), gabapentin (GBP), and lidocaine (LDC) on neuropathic pain behaviors in animal models. Thus, the purpose of this study was to investigate the acute effects of AMI, GBP, and LDC on behavioral signs of mechanical allodynia and the site of action of these drugs using a rat model of neuropathic pain. Under general anesthesia with halothane, neuropathic injury was produced in rats by tightly ligating the left L5 and L6 spinal nerves. In Experiment 1, baseline mechanical allodynia data were recorded, and the animals were randomly divided into five groups: Group 1 received saline intraperitoneally (IP), Group 2 received AMI (1.5 mg/kg IP); Group 3 received GBP (50 mg/kg IP), Group 4 received an IV saline infusion for 10 min, and Group 5 received LDC (10-mg/kg IV infusion) for 10 min. Measurements of mechanical allodynia were repeated 0.5, 1, 2, and 4 h and 1, 3, and 7 days after treatment. In Experiment 2, rats were prepared similarly to the first experiment, and a single unit activity of continuous discharges of injured afferent fibers was recorded from the left L5 fascicles before and until 1 h after treatment. All animals developed neuropathic pain behavior within 7 days after surgery. All three tested drugs were effective in increasing the threshold for mechanical allodynia as early as 30 min after treatment, and the effect lasted for at least 1 h. Furthermore, AMI and LDC reduced the rate of continuing discharges of injured afferent fibers, whereas GBP did not influence these discharges. Our findings clearly demonstrate an attenuation of neuropathic pain behavior in rats treated with AMI, GBP, or LDC. Finally, the site of action of LDC seems to be primarily in the periphery, and that of GBP is exclusively central, whereas that of AMI seems to have both peripheral and central components. Implications: In the present study, we examined the effectiveness of three drugs commonly used for the treatment of neuropathic pain. Systemic injections of amitriptyline, gabapentin, or lidocaine produced pain-relieving effects in this established model for neuropathic pain in rats, which supports their clinical use in managing patients with neuropathic pain syndromes.
(Anesth Analg 1998;87:1360-6)
(Abdi) Department of Anesthesiology and Critical Care, The Massachusetts General Hospital, Harvard Medical School, Boston, Massachusetts; and (Lee, Chung) Departments of Anesthesia, Anatomy and Neurosciences, Physiology, and Biophysics, The University of Texas Medical Branch and Marine Biomedical Institute, Galveston, Texas.
This research was supported by National Institutes of Health Grants NS 31680 and NS 11255.
Accepted for publication September 8, 1998.
Address correspondence and reprint requests to Salahadin Abdi, MD, PhD, Department of Anesthesia and Critical Care, Massachusetts General Hospital, 32 Fruit St., Boston, MA 02114. Address e-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org.