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Posts Tagged ‘pain’

A Better Mouse Pain Picture

Loyal readers will recall Friday’s post in which Stephen Greene, professor in anesthesiology at WSU’s College of Veterinary Medicine, commented on the first study of how a non-human animal’s face can express pain. Its publisher, Nature Methods, has kindly granted us permission to show a great set of pictures showing the “mouse grimace scale” that may some day be put to use in drug testing and veterinary care.

The "mouse grimace scale," according to the authors, "may provide insight into the subjective pain experience of mice."

Photo courtesy of Nature Methods and Dale J Langford, Andrea L Bailey, Mona Lisa Chanda, Sarah E Clarke, Tanya E Drummond, Stephanie Echols, Sarah Glick, Joelle Ingrao, Tammy Klassen-Ross, Michael L LaCroix-Fralish, Lynn Matsumiya, Robert E Sorge, Susana G Sotocinal, John M Tabaka, David Wong, Arn M J M van den Maagdenberg, Michel D Ferrari, Kenneth D Craig & Jeffrey S Mogil, authors of “Coding of facial expressions of pain in the laboratory mouse.”

A Better Mouse Pain Map

Photo courtesy of iklash via Flickr--

Animal pain has intrigued scientists for centuries, with questions ranging from whether they feel it at all–no kidding–to just how to gauge it. To state the obvious, they can’t talk, nor can they point to the smiley and not-so-smiley faces on a pain chart.

Canadian and Dutch researchers took a big step forward this week with the first study of how a non-human animal’s face can express pain. Putting mice in painful situations, they videotaped their reactions and documented bulging cheeks and noses, squinting eyes, and shifting ears and whiskers. Categorizing these gestures in levels of no pain, moderate pain, and severe pain, they created a “mouse grimace scale” for use in drug testing and veterinary care.

We brought this to the attention of Stephen Greene, a professor in anesthesiology at WSU’s College of Veterinary Medicine, who has naturally made animal pain a central concern of his career. It turns out he has long been teaching veterinary students a range of methods of gauging an animal’s discomfort.

“The mouse study is interesting,” he said. “We teach veterinary students that recognizing pain in each species is an important step in developing successful analgesic therapies. In the clinical setting, behavioral cues such as food and water consumption, posture, activity level, and vocalization are used to categorize the degree of pain in animals. Physiologic variables like heart rate and blood pressure also contribute to the pain assessment. The development of the mouse grimace scale appears to be a reliable metric of pain (in the mouse) that will likely contribute to better understanding and treatment of pain in many other species.”

Nature Methods , 2010. DOI: 10.1038/nmeth.1455