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Abigail Hellman, Teresa Maietta, Alicia Clum, Kanakaharini Byraju, Nataly Raviv, Michael D. Staudt, Erin Jeannotte, Julia Nalwalk, Sophie Belin, Yannick Poitelon, and Julie G. Pilitsis

OBJECTIVE

To date, muscular and bone pain have been studied in domestic swine models, but the only neuropathic pain model described in swine is a mixed neuritis model. Common peroneal nerve injury (CPNI) neuropathic pain models have been utilized in both mice and rats.

METHODS

The authors developed a swine surgical CPNI model of neuropathic pain. Behavioral outcomes were validated with von Frey filament testing, thermal sensitivity assessments, and social and motor scoring. Demyelination of the nerve was confirmed through standard histological assessment. The contralateral nerve served as the control.

RESULTS

CPNI induced mechanical and thermal allodynia (p < 0.001 [n = 10] and p < 0.05 [n = 4], respectively) and increased pain behavior, i.e., guarding of the painful leg (n = 12). Myelin protein zero (P0) staining revealed demyelination of the ligated nerve upstream of the ligation site.

CONCLUSIONS

In a neuropathic pain model in domestic swine, the authors demonstrated that CPNI induces demyelination of the common peroneal nerve, which the authors hypothesize is responsible for the resulting allodynic pain behavior. As the anatomical features of domestic swine resemble those of humans more closely than previously used rat and mouse models, utilizing this swine model, which is to the authors’ knowledge the first of its kind, will aid in the translation of experimental treatments to clinical trials.

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Abigail Hellman, Teresa Maietta, Alicia Clum, Kanakaharini Byraju, Nataly Raviv, Michael D. Staudt, Erin Jeannotte, Goutam Ghoshal, Damian Shin, Paul Neubauer, Emery Williams, Tamas Heffter, Clif Burdette, Jiang Qian, Julia Nalwalk, and Julie G. Pilitsis

OBJECTIVE

The authors’ laboratory has previously demonstrated beneficial effects of noninvasive low intensity focused ultrasound (liFUS), targeted at the dorsal root ganglion (DRG), for reducing allodynia in rodent neuropathic pain models. However, in rats the DRG is 5 mm below the skin when approached laterally, while in humans the DRG is typically 5–8 cm deep. Here, using a modified liFUS probe, the authors demonstrated the feasibility of using external liFUS for modulation of antinociceptive responses in neuropathic swine.

METHODS

Two cohorts of swine underwent a common peroneal nerve injury (CPNI) to induce neuropathic pain. In the first cohort, pigs (14 kg) were iteratively tested to determine treatment parameters. liFUS penetration to the L5 DRG was verified by using a thermocouple to monitor tissue temperature changes and by measuring nerve conduction velocity (NCV) at the corresponding common peroneal nerve (CPN). Pain behaviors were monitored before and after treatment. DRG was evaluated for tissue damage postmortem. Based on data from the first cohort, a treatment algorithm was developed, parameter predictions were verified, and neuropathic pain was significantly modified in a second cohort of larger swine (20 kg).

RESULTS

The authors performed a dose-response curve analysis in 14-kg CPNI swine. Specifically, after confirming that the liFUS probe could reach 5 cm in ex vivo tissue experiments, the authors tested liFUS in 14-kg CPNI swine. The mean ± SEM DRG depth was 3.79 ± 0.09 cm in this initial cohort. The parameters were determined and then extrapolated to larger animals (20 kg), and predictions were verified. Tissue temperature elevations at the treatment site did not exceed 2°C, and the expected increases in the CPN NCV were observed. liFUS treatment eliminated pain guarding in all animals for the duration of follow-up (up to 1 month) and improved allodynia for 5 days postprocedure. No evidence of histological damage was seen using Fluoro-Jade and H&E staining.

CONCLUSIONS

The results demonstrate that a 5-cm depth can be reached with external liFUS and alters pain behavior and allodynia in a large-animal model of neuropathic pain.