An objective and automated method for evaluating abdominal hyperalgesia in a rat model for endometriosis

Mieke A.W. van Aken, Patrick G. Groothuis, Maria Panagiotou, Marcel van Duin, Annemiek W. Nap, Tineke C.M. van Rijn, Tamas Kozicz, Didi D.M. Braat, Ard B.W.M.M. Peeters

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Chronic pain and subfertility are the main symptoms of concern in women with endometriosis. In order to find new therapeutic options to suppress the pain, translational animal models are indispensable. We have developed a new automated, experimental setup, with full consideration for animal wellbeing, to determine whether operant behaviour can reveal abdominal hyperalgesia in rats with surgically-induced endometriosis, in order to assess whether abdominal hyperalgesia affect behavioural parameters. Endometriosis was induced by transplantation of uterine fragments in the abdominal cavity. Control groups consisted of sham-operated rats and non-operated rats. We have developed an operant chamber (Skinnerbox) which includes a barrier. The rat can climb the barrier in order to reach the food pellet, increasing in this way the pressure to the abdomen. We show that endometriosis rats collect significantly less sugar pellets when compared with the control rats after the introduction of the barrier. In the Skinnerbox experiment, we showed that in a positive operant setting, the introduction of a barrier results in a contrast of operant behaviour of endometriosis rats and control groups, perchance as a result of abdominal discomfort/hyperalgesia due to surgically-induced endometriosis. This is a promising start for the further development of a refined animal model to monitor abdominal discomfort/hyperalgesia in rats with surgically-induced endometriosis.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)365-372
Number of pages8
JournalLaboratory Animals
Issue number4
StatePublished - Aug 1 2020


  • animal model
  • animal welfare
  • behaviour
  • endometriosis
  • pain

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Animal Science and Zoology
  • General Veterinary


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