Neuropathic pain is a pathological condition induced by a lesion or disease affecting the somatosensory system, with symptoms like allodynia and hyperalgesia. It has a multifaceted pathogenesis as it implicates several molecular signaling pathways involving peripheral and central nervous systems. Affective and cognitive dysfunctions have been reported as comorbidities of neuropathic pain states, supporting the notion that pain and mood disorders share some common pathogenetic mechanisms. The understanding of these pathophysiological mechanisms requires the development of animal models mimicking, as far as possible, clinical neuropathic pain symptoms. Among them, the Spared Nerve Injury (SNI) model has been largely characterized in terms of behavioral and functional alterations. This model is associated with changes in neuronal firing activity at spinal and supraspinal levels, and induces late neuropsychiatric disorders (such as anxious-like and depressive-like behaviors, and cognitive impairments) comparable to an advanced phase of neuropathy. The goal of this review is to summarize current findings in preclinical research, employing the SNI model as a tool for identifying pathophysiological mechanisms of neuropathic pain and testing pharmacological agent.
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