• cerebral evoked potentials;
  • colon;
  • rat;
  • visceral sensitivity


Background  Quantification of the visceromotor response induced by colorectal distension (CRD) in rodents is commonly used for preclinical studies of visceral pain. The model is well established but does not fully assess the central response to stimulation. The aim of this study was to establish a novel model assessing cerebral evoked potentials (CEPs) in response to CRD in awake rats.

Methods  Epidural recording electrodes were chronically implanted in the skull of female Sprague–Dawley rats. Colorectal distension-induced CEPs were recorded using either rapid balloon distensions (100 ms, 20–80 mmHg) or electric stimulation (1 ms, 1–4 mA) using stimulation probes placed in the distal colon.

Key Results  Colorectal distension-induced CEPs were separated in three partly temporally overlapping components consisting of five prominent peaks. Peak latencies at 80 mmHg were (P1, N1) 23 ± 1 and 55 ± 4 ms, (N2, P2a, P2b) 91 ± 3, 143 ± 5 and 174 ± 3 ms, and (P3) 297 ± 3 ms. Amplitudes and latencies were, except for the early component, intensity dependent. Intrarectal administration of lidocaine significantly reduced the amplitude of N2 (by 42 ± 6%, < 0.001) and P2 (by 34 ± 6%, < 0.001). Electrically induced CEPs were intensity dependent and had similar topography and latencies as the mechanical evoked potentials (P1: 26 ± 2 ms; N1: 61 ± 1 ms; P2: 84 ± 6 ms; N2: 154 ± 6 ms; P3: 326 ± 10 ms), but there were large variations in amplitudes in between repeated electrical stimulations.

Conclusions & Inferences  Colorectal distension-induced CEPs can be recorded reliably in awake rats and may serve as a surrogate marker of colonic sensation and be a useful parameter in studies of visceral sensitivity.