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Open Access Analgesic Efficacy of Orally Administered Buprenorphine in Rats: Methodologic Considerations

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Buprenorphine has been widely recommended for treatment of pain in rodents. We have previously documented that the recommended postoperative oral dose of buprenorphine in male Long-Evans rats, 0.5 mg/kg, is not as effective as the recommended parenteral dose of buprenorphine (0.05 mg/kg, s.c.) as an analgesic (21). In the series of experiments reported here, we compared: the analgesic effect of buprenorphine when prepared in two ways in the laboratory with that of a commercially available injectable solution of buprenorphine; the analgesic effect of buprenorphine in Long-Evans rats with that in Sprague-Dawley rats; and Long-Evans and Sprague-Dawley rats for development of pica, a commonly reported side effect of buprenorphine. We followed the pica experiment with assessment of the effectiveness of buprenorphine in establishing a conditioned flavor aversion. The results indicated that method of preparation did not result in any significant differences in the efficacy of injected buprenorphine. Strain of rat was not associated with a significant difference in the efficacy of buprenorphine. However, a significant strain difference was found in development of pica. Buprenorphine treatment was effective in inducing a conditioned flavor aversion. We concluded that the recommended oral dose of buprenorphine (0.5 mg/kg) is ineffective as an analgesic, and that this was not the result of method of preparation of the buprenorphine or strain of rat used. Furthermore, we concluded that buprenorphine treatment may induce gastrointestinal distress in both strains tested. The results reaffirm our previous conclusion that oral administration of buprenorphine at 0.5 mg/kg, despite the general recommendation, is not a reasonable treatment for postsurgical pain in rats.

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Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: 1: Research Institute on Addictions, University at Buffalo, 1021 Main Street, Buffalo, New York 14213 2: Department of Psychology, Behavioral Neuroscience Program, University at Buffalo, Park Hall, Buffalo, New York 14260 3: Department of Comparative Medicine and Laboratory Animal Facilities, School of Medicine and Biomedical Sciences, University at Buffalo, 116 Biomedical Education Building, 3435 Main Street, Buffalo, New York 14260

Publication date: 2004-06-01

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  • Comparative Medicine (CM), an international journal of comparative and experimental medicine, is the leading English-language publication in the field and is ranked by the Science Citation Index in the upper third of all scientific journals. The mission of CM is to disseminate high-quality, peer-reviewed information that expands biomedical knowledge and promotes human and animal health through the study of laboratory animal disease, animal models of disease, and basic biologic mechanisms related to disease in people and animals.

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