Effects of acepromazine, butorphanol and buprenorphine on thermal and mechanical nociceptive thresholds in horses

E. J. Love, P. M. Taylor, J. Murrell, H. R. Whay

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle (Academic Journal)peer-review

56 Citations (Scopus)


Reasons for performing study: To investigate the antinociceptive effects of buprenorphine administered in combination with acepromazine in horses and to establish an effective dose for use in a clinical environment.

Objectives: To evaluate the responses to thermal and mechanical stimulation following administration of 3 doses of buprenorphine compared to positive (butorphanol) and negative (glucose) controls.

Methods: Observer blinded, randomised, crossover design using 6 Thoroughbred geldings (3-10 years, 500-560 kg). Thermal and mechanical nociceptive thresholds were measured 3 times at 15 min intervals. Horses then received acepromazine 0.05 mg/kg bwt with one of 5 treatments i. v.: 5% glucose (Glu), butorphanol 100 mg/kg bwt (But) buprenorphine 5 mg/kg bwt (Bup5), buprenorphine 7.5 mg/kg bwt (Bup7.5) and buprenorphine 10 mg/kg bwt (Bup10). Thresholds were measured 15, 30, 45, 60, 90, 120, 150, 180, 230 min, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12 and 24 h post treatment administration. The 95% confidence intervals for threshold temperature (DT) for each horsewere calculated and an antinociceptive effect defined as DT, whichwas higher than the upper limit of the confidence interval. Duration of thermal antinociception was analysed using a within-subjects ANOVA and peak mechanical thresholds with a general linear model with post hoc Tukey tests. Significance was set at P< 0.05.

Results: Mean (+/- s. d.) durations of thermal antinociception following treatment administration were: Glu 0.5 (1.1), But 2.9 (2.0), Bup5 7.4 (2.3), Bup7.5 7.8 (2.7) and Bup10 9.4 (1.1) h. B5, B7.5 and B10 were significantly different from Glu and But. No serious adverse effects occurred, although determination of mechanical thresholds was confounded by locomotor stimulation.

Conclusions: Administration of acepromazine and all doses of buprenorphine produced antinociception to a thermal stimulus for significantly longer than acepromazine and either butorphanol or glucose. Potential relevance: This study suggests that buprenorphine has considerable potential as an analgesic in horses and should be examined further under clinical conditions and by investigation of the pharmacokinetic/pharmacodynamic profile.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)221-225
Number of pages5
JournalEquine Veterinary Journal
Issue number2
Early online date23 Jun 2011
Publication statusPublished - Mar 2012


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