A modified Hargreaves' method for assessing threshold temperatures for heat nociception

Ratan K. Banik, Rajiv A. Kabadi

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10 Scopus citations


This study describes a modified Hargreaves' method for assessing paw withdrawal threshold temperatures for heat (PWT-H) nociception in the hind paws of rats. This method utilises radiant heat to maintain controlled lamp temperatures (CLTs) on a glass floor beneath the rat hind paw. An ascending series of CLTs were applied for 10. s, with 5-10. min intervals between applications, until characteristic withdrawal behaviour was observed or a cutoff CLT was reached. The average plantar epicutaneous temperatures measured from anaesthetised rats corresponding to CLTs and withdrawal latencies were used for determining PWT-H. The mean PWT-H in 2-month-old (mo) naïve Sprague-Dawley rats ( n= 38) was 47.6. ±. 0.2. °C, which is comparable to the noxious threshold temperature for human glabrous skin (46.5. ±. 0.5. °C). The PWT-H was consistent between trials and daily assessments over four consecutive days. No significant differences were observed between the PWT-H in 2-, 6- to 8-, and >24-mo F344 rats, but the PWT-H in 1-mo rats was significantly reduced. Three hours following plantar incision, the PWT-H decreased to 37.5. ±. 0.2. °C, consistent with previous observations of C-fibre afferents from incised glabrous skin firing at 36.7. ±. 3.6. °C. Parallel testing, using the current method and an electronic von Frey device, illustrated similar degrees of incision-induced hyperalgesia, gradual improvements in hyperalgesia, and reversals induced through morphine and gabapentin. In conclusion, the present method facilitates a comparison of PWT-H using electrophysiological and human psychophysical studies involving thermosensation, and as a behavioural assay identical to von Frey testing, this method also measures the threshold for nociception.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)41-51
Number of pages11
JournalJournal of Neuroscience Methods
Issue number1
StatePublished - Sep 1 2013


  • Gabapentin
  • Morphine
  • Nociception
  • Radiant heat
  • Rat
  • Threshold temperature

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