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The most common complication of herpes zoster is post-herpetic neuralgia (PHN), which has been defined as severe pain occurring 1 month after rash onset or persisting for greater than 3 months. PHN is classed as a neuropathic pain that is associated with mechanical allodynia where normally innocuous tactile stimuli are perceived as painful. The development of therapies to treat PHN has been hampered by the lack of animal models, which mimic the clinical situation. We have previously reported that varicella zoster virus (VZV) infection in the rat results in mechanical allodynia and thermal hyperalgesia. Here, we report that following VZV infection of the left footpad rats develop a chronic mechanical allodynia, which is present for longer than 60 days post-infection and which resolves by 100 days PI. The model is robust and reproducible with animals consistently developing allodynia by 3 days PI and continuing to present with symptoms for at least 30 days. The reproducible nature of the induction and course of the allodynia allows the use of this model to determine the effect of various compounds on, and to investigate the pathogenic mechanisms underlying the development of VZV-induced allodynia. Comparative studies using HSV-1 show that the induction of the chronic allodynia is VZV-specific and is not a result is of virus replication-induced tissue damage or accompanying inflammation. Therefore, we propose that the rat VZV infection model could prove useful in studying the mechanisms underlying post-herpetic neuralgia.

Original publication




Journal article


Brain Res Brain Res Rev

Publication Date





234 - 242


Animals, Cell Line, Chlorocebus aethiops, Chronic Disease, Cricetinae, Disease Models, Animal, Foot, Functional Laterality, Herpes Zoster, Herpesvirus 1, Human, Herpesvirus 3, Human, Hyperalgesia, Male, Nervous System, Neuralgia, Rabbits, Rats, Rats, Wistar, Reaction Time, Recovery of Function, Reproducibility of Results, Species Specificity