A protocol for the systematic review and meta-analysis of thigmotactic behaviour in the open field test in rodent models associated with persistent pain

Xue Ying Zhang, Jan Vollert, Emily S Sena, Andrew Sc Rice, Nadia Soliman

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract / Description of output

OBJECTIVE: Thigmotaxis is an innate predator avoidance behaviour of rodents and is enhanced when animals are under stress. It is characterised by the preference of a rodent to seek shelter, rather than expose itself to the aversive open area. The behaviour has been proposed to be a measurable construct that can address the impact of pain on rodent behaviour. This systematic review will assess whether thigmotaxis can be influenced by experimental persistent pain and attenuated by pharmacological interventions in rodents.

SEARCH STRATEGY: We will conduct search on three electronic databases to identify studies in which thigmotaxis was used as an outcome measure contextualised to a rodent model associated with persistent pain. All studies published until the date of the search will be considered.

SCREENING AND ANNOTATION: Two independent reviewers will screen studies based on the order of (1) titles and abstracts, and (2) full texts.

DATA MANAGEMENT AND REPORTING: For meta-analysis, we will extract thigmotactic behavioural data and calculate effect sizes. Effect sizes will be combined using a random-effects model. We will assess heterogeneity and identify sources of heterogeneity. A risk-of-bias assessment will be conducted to evaluate study quality. Publication bias will be assessed using funnel plots, Egger's regression and trim-and-fill analysis. We will also extract stimulus-evoked limb withdrawal data to assess its correlation with thigmotaxis in the same animals. The evidence obtained will provide a comprehensive understanding of the strengths and limitations of using thigmotactic outcome measure in animal pain research so that future experimental designs can be optimised. We will follow the Preferred Reporting Items for Systematic Reviews and Meta-Analyses reporting guidelines and disseminate the review findings through publication and conference presentation.

Original languageEnglish
Article numbere100135
Number of pages7
JournalBMJ Open Science
Volume5
Issue number1
Early online date22 Jan 2021
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 22 Jan 2021

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