Testing and Comparison of Non-Opioid Analgesics in Amphibians

Craig W. Stevens, Donald N. Maciver, Leslie C. Newman

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36 Scopus citations


Because of the lack of information about effective analgesics in non-mammalian vertebrates, the potency of various non-opioid agents were tested in a model of analgesia by using Northern grass frogs (Rana pipiens). This alternative model has been used widely for investigating opioid analgesic action. Potential non-opioid analgesics tested included antipsychotic, benzodiazepine, barbiturate, antihistamine, non-steroidal anti-inflammatory (NSAID), and partial opioid agents. Northern grass frogs were acclimated to lab conditions in individual cages. Drugs were administered systemically through the dorsal lymph sac, and analgesic effects were estimated by using the acetic acid test (AAT). The AAT is done by placing logarithmic dilutions of acid dropwise on the dorsum of the animal's thigh until a wiping response is obtained. At various doses, chlorpromazine and haloperidol (antipsychotics), chlordiazepoxide (a benzodiazepine), buprenorphine (a partial opioid agonist), and diphenhydramine (a histamine antagonist) produced moderate to strong analgesic effects. Indomethacin and ketorolac (NSAIDs), butorphanol (a partial opioid agonist), and pentobarbital (a barbiturate) produced weaker but noticeable analgesic effects. Our results are the first to document the effectiveness of a wide array of pharmacologically active agents in a novel amphibian model for analgesia. These findings provide needed data regarding the use of alternative, non-opioid agents for the treatment of pain in amphibians and other poikilothermic species.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)23-27
Number of pages5
JournalContemporary Topics in Laboratory Animal Science
Issue number4
StatePublished - 2001


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