Thermal nociception as a measure of non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drug effectiveness in broiler chickens with articular pain

Gina Caplen, Laurence Baker, Becky Hothersall, Dorothy E F McKeegan, Victoria Sandilands, Nick H C Sparks, Avril E Waterman-Pearson, Joanna C Murrell

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

24 Citations (Scopus)


Pain associated with poultry lameness is poorly understood. The anti-nociceptive properties of two non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) were evaluated using threshold testing in combination with an acute inflammatory arthropathy model. Broilers were tested in six groups (n=8 per group). Each group underwent a treatment (saline, meloxicam (3 or 5mg/kg) or carprofen (15 or 25mg/kg)) and a procedure (Induced (arthropathy-induction) or sham (sham-handling)) prior to testing. Induced groups had Freund's complete adjuvant injected intra-articularly into the left intertarsal joint (hock). A ramped thermal stimulus (1°C/s) was applied to the skin of the left metatarsal. Data were analysed using random-intercept multi-level models. 
Saline-induced birds had a significantly higher skin temperature (± SD) than saline-sham birds (37.6 ± 0.8 °C vs. 36.5 ± 0.5 °C; Z = −3.47, P < 0.001), consistent with an inflammatory response. Saline was associated with significantly lower thermal thresholds (TT) than analgesic treatment (meloxicam: Z = 2.72, P = 0.007; carprofen: Z = 2.58, P = 0.010) in induced birds. Saline-induced birds also had significantly lower TT than saline-sham birds (Z = −2.17, P = 0.030). This study found direct evidence of an association between inflammatory arthropathies and thermal hyperalgesia, and showed that NSAID treatment maintained baseline thermal sensitivity (via anti-nociception). Quantification of nociceptive responsiveness in a predictable broiler pain model identified thermal anti-hyperalgesic properties of two NSAIDs, which suggested that therapeutically effective treatment was provided at the doses administered. Such validation of analgesic strategies will increase the understanding of pain associated with specific natural broiler lameness types.
Keywords: Broiler; Lameness; Nociceptive; NSAID; Pain
Original languageEnglish
Article number3
Pages (from-to)616-619
JournalVeterinary Journal
Publication statusPublished - 20 Sept 2013

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Copyright © 2013 The Authors. Published by Elsevier Ltd.. All rights reserved.


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