Closing Notes

This is not intended to be an exhaustive account of every visceral pain model currently known; however this has been written to show the diversity of different approaches taken to further investigate the mechanisms that underlie human visceral pain-producing conditions. The purpose of developing animal models such as those we describe here is, ultimately, to further our knowledge of the processes and mechanisms of visceral pain and visceral hypersensitivity that characterize human disease, and develop strategies to treat the pain and hypersensitivity. An animal model should, therefore, exhibit symptoms that reliably match some or all of those in the human disorder—not just in appearance, but insofar as possible also in severity, temporal resolution, and response to current therapies. This is particularly difficult in diseases for which the underlying cause is unknown (e.g., functional disorders such as IBS), but the creation of models to study processes, mediators, and molecules contributing to an underlying characteristic of the disease or syndrome (i.e., visceral hypersensitivity) may lead to new hypotheses and avenues of possibility that, with further research, help to point the way forward. As we have discussed, the validity of any one particular animal model must be assessed in relation to the purpose for which it is being used; it is important for the experimenter to choose the most appropriate model according to the aims of their investigation, keeping in mind the ethical implications of any such study.

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