Effects of ventral hippocampal lesion on thermal and mechanical nociception in neonates and adult rats
The proper maturation of the hippocampus is essential for the development of different behaviours, including memory, pain responses and avoidance. The mechanisms involved in the neurodevelopment of nociception have also been implicated in several neuropsychiatric disorders. The neonatal lesion of the ventral hippocampus (VH) in rats, an animal model of schizophrenia, can be utilized to study the developmental neurobiology of animal behaviour. We examined the nociceptive responses in this animal model at different stages of development. Rat pups were lesioned at postnatal day 7 by injecting ibotenic acid into the VH bilaterally, and then tested for thermal and mechanical nociception at the age of 35, 65 and 180 days. The nociceptive tests used were the hot plate (HP), paw pressure (PP) and tail flick (TF) tests. Another group of adult rats had the same lesion in the VH and then underwent the same tests at 28, 56 and 168 days post-lesions. When compared with sham controls, the rats with neonatal VH lesion showed decreased latency for the HP and PP tests only after puberty. The TF test showed significant increase in latency for both groups at age 65 and 180 days. The adult rats with VH lesion showed no major changes over all periods of testing. These results suggest that early lesion of VH can alter the development of the neural mechanisms involved in the processing of thermal and mechanical nociception.