Does single cortical spreading depression elicit pain behaviour in freely moving rats?

Research paper by Didem D Akcali, Aslihan A Sayin, Yildirim Y Sara, Hayrunnisa H Bolay

Indexed on: 22 Sep '10Published on: 22 Sep '10Published in: Cephalalgia


Behavioural animal studies are critical, particularly to translate results to human beings. Cortical spreading depression (CSD) has been implicated in migraine pathogenesis. We aimed to investigate the effects of CSD on the behaviour of freely moving rats, since available CSD models do not include awake animals.We developed a new model to induce single CSD by applying topical N-methyl-D-aspartate (NMDA) and employed a combination of an automated behavioural analysis system, video camera and ultrasonic vocalisation (USV) calls for the first time. Electrocorticograms were also studied during CSD in freely moving rats. Behaviour associated with cephalic pain was assessed in a group of rats that received sumatriptan. Cortical c-fos immunoreactivity was performed in order to confirm CSD.NMDA induced single CSD in ipsilateral cortex, evoked freezing behaviour (P < 0.01) and increased the number of wet dog shakes (WDS; P < 0.01). Grooming, locomotion, eating, drinking, and circling were not significantly altered among groups. Ultrasonic vocalisations compatible with pain calls (22-27 kHz) were only detected in 3 out of 25 rats. Sumatriptan did not significantly reduce the freezing behaviour. CSD induced significant c-fos expression in ipsilateral cerebral cortex and amygdala (P < 0.01).CSD induces freezing behaviour by invoking anxiety/fear via amygdala activation in freely-moving rats. Single CSD is unlikely to lead to severe pain in freely-moving rats, though the development of mild or vague pain cannot be excluded. The relevance of rat behavioural responses triggered by CSD to migraine symptoms in humans needs further evaluation.