The functional role of the visual and olfactory modalities in the development of socially transferred mechanical hypersensitivity in male C57BL/6J mice

Yi Han, Lin Ai, Sha sha, Jingwei Zhou, Hanyu Fu, Changcheng Sun, Ruiqi Liu, Anan Li, Jun Li Cao, Ankang Hu, Hongxing Zhang

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

An increasing body of evidence suggests that the state of hyperalgesia could be socially transferred from one individual to another through a brief empathetic social contact. However, how the social transfer of pain develops during social contact is not well-known. Utilizing a well-established mouse model, the present study aims to study the functional role of visual and olfactory cues in the development of socially-transferred mechanical hypersensitivity. Behavioral tests demonstrated that one hour of brief social contact with a conspecific mouse injected with complete Freund's adjuvant (CFA) was both sufficient and necessary for developing socially-transferred mechanical hypersensitivity. One hour of social contact with visual deprivation could not prevent the development of socially-transferred mechanical hypersensitivity, and screen observation of a CFA cagemate was not sufficient to develop socially-transferred mechanical hypersensitivity in bystanders. Methimazole-induced olfactory deprivation, a compound with reversible toxicity on the nasal olfactory epithelium, was sufficient to prevent the development of socially-transferred mechanical hypersensitivity. Intriguingly, repeated but not acute olfactory exposure to the CFA mouse bedding induced a robust decrease in 50 % paw withdrawal thresholds (50 %PWTs) to mechanical stimuli, an effect returned to the baseline level after two days of washout with clean bedding. The findings strongly indicate that the normal olfactory function is crucial for the induction of mechanical hypersensitivity through brief empathetic contact, offering valuable insights for animal housing in future pain research.

Original languageEnglish
Article number114499
JournalPhysiology and Behavior
Volume277
DOIs
StatePublished - 1 Apr 2024
Externally publishedYes

Keywords

  • CFA
  • Olfactory cue
  • Pain
  • Social interaction
  • Socially transferred mechanical hypersensitivity
  • Visual contact

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