Paw withdrawal threshold in the von Frey hair test is influenced by the surface on which the rat stands
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The effect of testing surface on the rat hind paw withdrawal threshold in the von Frey hair test is investigated in this study. The data indicate that wire mesh, which is typically used to apply von Frey hairs, may have an effect on the paw withdrawal threshold. For example, in control rats tested on the wire mesh, variability in the withdrawal threshold was observed between the left and the right hind paws (51.04+/-12.29 and 64.31+/-9.37 g, respectively) and on different days of testing (35.24+/-9.54 and 45.83+/-12.97 g for the left and right hind paws, respectively, 7 days later). In an attempt to reduce this variability, a customized platform was used to measure the von Frey hair-induced paw withdrawal in the rat. It consists of an opaque, flat-surfaced plastic platform with holes through which von Frey hairs are inserted and applied to the plantar surface of the paw. In control rats tested with von Frey hairs using this customized platform, variability in the paw withdrawal thresholds between the left and right hind paws in single rats over time as well as between different rats was reduced (49.86+/-6.97 and 49.29+/-6.56 g for the left and right hind paws, respectively, on day 0; 48.29+/-5.82 and 53.00+/-4.59 g for the left and right hind paws, respectively, 7 days later). Furthermore, in rats in which a 2 mm polyethylene cuff was used to constrict the left common sciatic nerve, the ipsilateral as well as the contralateral hind paw withdrawal thresholds were decreased (2.45+/-0.65 and 26.09+/-5.86 g, respectively, 7 days later). In similar rats tested on the wire mesh, the ipsilateral but not the contralateral paw withdrawal threshold decreased (12.80+/-2.21 and 65.00+/-10.28 g, respectively, at 7 days). The data suggest that the flat surface and opaque properties of the customized platform enable accurate, reliable and repeatable measurements of ipsilateral and contralateral paw withdrawal threshold using von Frey hairs in normal and nerve-injured rats.
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