Previous work in our laboratory showed that the recommended oral dose of buprenorphine (0.5 mg/kg) was not as effective\ud as the standard therapeutic subcutaneous dose for postoperative analgesia in male Long-Evans (hooded) and Sprague-Dawley (albino) rats. The aim of the current study was to extend this analysis to female rats. We measured the pain threshold in adult female rats in diestrus or proestrus before and 30 and 60 min after oral buprenorphine (0.5 mg/kg,), the standard subcutaneous dose of buprenorphine (0.05 mg/kg), or vehicle only (1 ml/kg each orally and subcutaneously). Female rats showed an increased pain threshold (analgesia) after subcutaneous buprenorphine but no change in pain threshold after either oral buprenorphine or vehicle only. Estrous cycle stage (proestrus versus diestrus) did not affect the analgesic effects of buprenorphine, but rats in proestrus showed significantly lower pain thresholds (less tolerance to pain) than did those in diestrus. These results show that the oral dose of buprenorphine recommended for postoperative analgesic care does not induce significant analgesia in female rats and therefore is not as effective as the standard subcutaneous dose
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