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Experimental models

In vitro models

  1. Perfusion system: Measurement of the release of sensory neuropeptides (substance P, CGRP and somatostatin and PACAP) from isolated organs, especially rat trachea with specific and sensitive radioimmunoassay techniques developed in our laboratory
  2. Murine and rat peritoneal macrophage cultures: Measurement of cytokine (especially IL-1-beta and TNF-alpha) production in response to LPS and PMA stimulation
  3. Primary culture of trigeminal neurones, astrocytes, peritoneal macrophages and receptor (TRPV1, TRPA1, sst1-5) expressing cell lines made in our laboratories: examination of ligand-receptor binding and receptor activation

In vivo inflammation models of mice and rats (mechanism and disease models)

  • Acute and chronic joint inflammation: Mouse/rat models of arthritis (kaoline, carrageenan-induced acute monoarthritis, complete Freund’s adjuvant-induced chronic polyarthritis, autoantibody-transfer and proteoglycane-induced polyarthritis, iodoacetate-induced osteoarthritis).
  • Acute and chronic airway inflammation: Mouse models (endotoxin-induced nonallergic and dust mite antigen-induced allergic lung inflammation, ovalbumineinduced asthma, cigarette smoke-evoked chronic bronchitis).
  • Acute and chronic cutaneous inflammation: mouse/rat models (irritant-induced acute inflammation, oxazolone-evoked allergic contact dermatitis, murine psoriasis models, bleomycine-induced scleroderma-model).
  • Chronic gastric and bowel inflammation: Mouse models of inflammatory gastrointestinal conditions (gastritis, autoimmune colon inflammation, Crohn-disease models).

In vivo pain models of mice and rats

1. Acute chemonociception: examination of nocifensive behaviours in the:

  • PMA (phorbol-myristil-acetate) and formalin (somatic) tests
  • Acetic acid-, magnesium-sulphate and phenylquinone-induced writhing test (visceral)

2. Thermonociceptive tests:

  • Heat threshold measurements, RTX-, OLDA-, capsaicin-induced heat allodynia tests

3. Mechanonocipetion tests: measurement of pressure and touch sensitivity thresholds

4. Migraine and chronic neuropathy: Mouse/rat models of traumatic mononeuropathy, diabetic polyneuropathy, toxic polyneuropathy, and bone metastasis-induced neuropathic pain.


Models of acute and chronic stress

  1. Tail suspension and forced swim tests
  2. Chronic restraint stress
  3. Chronic variable stress

Investigational techniques

Examination of inflammation


  • Measurement of microcirculation by laser-Doppler flowmetry
  • Measurement of plasma protein extravasation by Evans blue accumulation (spectrophotometry) and 125I-labelled BSA (gamma counter)
  • Measurement of ear thickness and joint diameter with a Mitutoyo digital caliper
  • Measurement of paw oedema by plethysmometry
  • Determination of airway function by whole body plethysmography (Buxco)
  • direct measurement in anaesthesized mice and rats
  • assessment of bronchoconstriction in unrestrained, freely moving animals


a.) Fluorescent and luminescent functional imaging of living, anesthetized mice/rats, excised tissue samples, and cell cultures

Analysis of the expression and distribution of various biological markers (enzyme activity, receptors, structural components, free radicals) using fluorescent contrast agents, and bioluminescent/chemiluminescent substrates.


  • PerkinElmer FMT 2000 – Fluroescent molecular tomography system
  • PerkinElmer Lumina III – Luminescent/fluorescent imaging system

b.) Intravital microscopy examinations

Real time monitoring of vasodilation, plasma protein extravastion, leukocyte accumulation, etc. in murine inflammation models. Imaging and quantitative analysis of these parameters in the skin, brain surface, joints, and internal organs.


  • NIKON intravital microscope with camera and image analysis software

c.) In vivo imaging of microcirculation in mice/rats, large animals and humans (skin, mucous membrane)

Measurement of microcirculation in animal models of inflammation, vasoregulatory disorders, and migraine. Noninvasive investigation of local skin blood flow in human subjects.


  • PeriScan PIM II laser Doppler imager with inbuilt blood flow sensor
  • PeriFlux 5000 Laser Doppler Flowmeter – monitoring of microcirculation and PO2/PCO2.
  • Optional application of temperature and pressure stimuli.
  • PeriCam laser speckle imager – Capable of monitoring rapid/transient changes of microcirculation

d.) In vivo micro CT


  • Bruker high resolution in vivo micro CT (lung, heart, bone structural imaging)


  • Measurement of leukocyte accumulation in tissue homogenates (skin, joint, lung) by spectrophotometric determination of the myeloperoxidase enzyme (MPO) activity
  • Measurement of inflammatory (substance P, CGRP) and anti-inflammatory sensory neuropeptides (somatostatin, PACAP) with radioimmunoassay (RIA) in tissue (skin, joint, lung), plasma and in the incubation medium obtained in the in vitro perfusion system
  • Determination of inflammatory cytokines (TNF-alpha, IL-1-beta, INF-gamma, IL-3, IL-5, etc.) and cytokine profile in the inflamed tissues and plasma by cytometric bead array (CBA) and enzyme-linked immunoassay (ELISA) techniques
  • Determination of inflammatory cell profile by flow cytometry from peripheral blood, synovial and BAL fluid and tissue homogenates
  • Western blot


  • mRNA preparation from tissues, quantitative RT-PCR
  • Receptor cDNA cloning, expression in eukariotic cell lines
  • Receptor binding and G-protein activation assays
  • Radioactive Ca45-uptake assay
  • Measurement of Ca2+ influx with fura-2 and fluo-4 microfluorimetric techniques


Paraffin-embedded and cryostat sections,

  • conventional histology and semiquantitative evaluation (Olympus microscope with fluorescence setup and analysis software)
  • immunohistochemistry and immune-fluorescent techniques on animal and human tissue


  • PerkinElmer MANTRA automated light and fluorescent tissue analysing system
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