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Comparison of milnacipran, duloxetine and pregabalin in the formalin pain test and in a model of stress-induced ultrasonic vocalizations in rats.

Bardin L, Gregoire S, Aliaga M, Malfetes N, Vitton O, Ladure P, Newman-Tancredi A, Depoortère R.
Neurosci Res. 2010 Feb;66(2):135-40. Epub 2009 Oct 31.

Milnacipran and duloxetine, serotonin/noradrenalin reuptake inhibitors, and pregabalin, a alpha(2)-delta(1) Ca(2+) channel blocker, are efficacious against fibromyalgia, a condition characterized by diffuse chronic pain and associated with stress. We compared these compounds (i.p. route), in rat models of acute/inflammatory pain (2.5% intraplantar formalin) and stress-induced ultrasonic vocalization (USV: 22kHz calls following presentation of a conditioned stimulus previously associated with foot-shocks). In the formalin test, milnacipran dose-dependently attenuated paw elevation and licking (minimal effective dose, MED: 2.5mg/kg for licking/late phase). Duloxetine was slightly more potent (MED=0.63). Pregabalin also reduced paw licking/late phase (MED=0.63), but was inactive up to 160mg/kg for paw elevation (both phases) and paw licking (early phase). Milnacipran dose-dependently reduced USV (MED=10, near total inhibition at 20mg/kg); duloxetine was less potent (MED=20). Pregabalin (2.5-80mg/kg) was only significantly active at 40mg/kg. Milnacipran, duloxetine and pregabalin possess analgesic activity in the formalin test on paw licking/late phase (corresponding to inflammatory pain with a central sensitization component). In the stress-induced USV model, milnacipran was the most potent and efficacious compound. To summarize, reduction of formalin-induced paw licking/late phase might constitute a useful indicator of potential activity against inflammatory/centrally sensitized pain, as might be expressed in fibromyalgia.