Introduction: Genetically modified mice are widely used in studies on human and animal physiology and pharmacology, including pain research. The experimental design usually includes comparisons of genetically modified mice with wild-type littermates, requiring biopsy material for genotyping and methods for unequivocal identification of individual mice. Ethical standards and, in some countries, legislation require that both needs are reached with a single procedure. Clipping of the most distal phalanx of up to two toes per paw (toe clipping) is the favored procedure in most research fields, but it may be problematic in sensory physiology and pain research.
Objectives: To systematically investigate whether toe-clipping influences later-in-life nociceptive sensitivity or the susceptibility to neuropathic or inflammatory hyperalgesia.
Methods: We tested in male mice whether the clipping of 2 toes of a hind paw influences nociceptive sensitivities to noxious heat or cold, or to mechanical stimulation under baseline conditions, after peripheral nerve injury (chronic constriction of the sciatic nerve) or during peripheral inflammation induced by subcutaneous zymosan A injection. We tested not only for the presence of significant differences but also specifically addressed bioequivalence using the 2 one-sided t test procedure. We chose a threshold of 25% variation of the control value for nonequivalence, which is usually taken as a threshold for biological relevance in pain tests.
Results: Using this value, we found that for all conditions (non-neuropathic and non-inflamed, neuropathic and inflamed), nociceptive sensitivities significantly fell within the equivalence bounds of the non–toe-clipped control mice.
Conclusions: These results suggest that toe clipping does not have long-term effects on nociceptive sensitivities and does not alter the susceptibility of male mice to neuropathic or inflammatory hyperalgesia.