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Open Access Research article

Bilateral central pain sensitization in rats following a unilateral thalamic lesion may be treated with high doses of ketamine

Aude Castel1, Pierre Hélie2, Francis Beaudry1 and Pascal Vachon1*

Author Affiliations

1 Faculty of Veterinary Medicine, Departments of Veterinary Biomedicine, Saint-Hyacinthe, Quebec, Canada

2 Pathology & Microbiology, University of Montreal, Saint-Hyacinthe, Quebec, Canada

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BMC Veterinary Research 2013, 9:59  doi:10.1186/1746-6148-9-59

Published: 27 March 2013



Central post-stroke pain is a neuropathic pain condition caused by a vascular lesion, of either ischemic or hemorrhagic origin, in the central nervous system and more precisely involving the spinothalamocortical pathway responsible for the transmission of painful sensations. Few animal models have been developed to study this problem. The objectives of this study were to evaluate different modalities of pain in a central neuropathic pain rat model and to assess the effects of ketamine administered at different doses. Animals were evaluated on the rotarod, Hargreaves, Von Frey and acetone tests. A very small hemorrhage was created by injecting a collagenase solution in the right ventral posterolateral thalamic nucleus. Following the establishment of the neuropathy, ketamine was evaluated as a therapeutic drug for this condition.


Histopathological observations showed a well localized lesion with neuronal necrosis and astrocytosis following the collagenase injection that was localized within the VPL. No significant change in motor coordination was observed following surgery in either the saline or collagensae groups. In the collagenase group, a significant decrease in mechanical allodynia threshold was observed. A sporadic and transient cold allodynia was also noted. No thermal hyperalgesia was seen following the collagenase injection. Ketamine was then tested as a potential therapeutic drug. A significant decrease in motor coordination was seen only following the administration of 25 mg/kg of ketamine in both groups. An alleviation of mechanical allodynia was achieved only with the high ketamine dose. The minimal effective ketamine serum concentration (150 ng/mL) was only achieved in animals that received 25 mg/kg.


An intrathalamic hemorrhage induced a bilateral mechanical allodynia in rats. Cold hyperalgesia was observed in 60% of these animals. Mechanical allodynia was alleviated with high doses of ketamine which corresponded with therapeutic plasmatic concentrations.

Central pain; Thalamus; Hematoma; Ketamine; Allodynia; Hyperalgesia