Paracetamol has recently been suggested to affect emotion processing in addition to alleviating pain in humans. We investigated in adult male Hannover–Wistar rats whether acute intraperitoneally administrated paracetamol affects behavior in tests measuring anxiety, mood, motor activity, and memory. Unoperated rats received saline or a low (50 mg/kg) or high (300 mg/kg) dose of paracetamol, while rats with a spared nerve injury (SNI) model of neuropathy and sham-operated rats received saline or the low dose of paracetamol. Rats were tested on open-field (OFT), elevated plus-maze (EPM), light-dark box (LDB), novel-object recognition (NOR), sucrose preference, rotarod, and monofilament tests. In unoperated rats, both the low and high dose of paracetamol reduced line crossings, and grooming time in the OFT, and novel preference in NOR. The high dose of paracetamol increased the time spent in the closed arm in EPM, reduced the number of rearings and leanings in OFT, the time spent in the light box in LDB, and sucrose preference. Paracetamol had no significant effect on the rotarod test measuring motor activity. The low dose of paracetamol suppressed mechanical pain hypersensitivity in SNI rats, without influencing pain behavior in sham-operated rats. Saline- but not paracetamol-treated SNI rats spent more time than sham-operated rats in the closed arm in the EPM test. Together the results suggest that a high dose of paracetamol increases anxiety-like and anhedonic behavior, and impairs recognition memory in unoperated controls, while in neuropathy, a low dose of paracetamol reduces nerve injury-associated anxiety probably by reducing neuropathic pain.
- neuropathic pain
- recognition memory