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Recent studies have demonstrated that teleost fish possess nociceptors that detect potentially painful stimuli and that the physiological properties of these fibres are markedly similar to those found in mammals. This finding led to suggestions of possible pain perception in fish, contrary to the view that the sensory response in these animals is limited to the spinal cord and hindbrain and as such is reflexive. Therefore, the aim of this study was to determine if the brain is active at the molecular level by using a microarray analysis of gene expression in the forebrain, midbrain and hindbrain of two fish species. A comparison between the two species at different time points showed that many genes were differentially regulated in response to a noxious stimulus compared with controls. A number of genes that are involved in mammalian nociception, such as brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF) and the cannabinoid CB1 receptor were regulated in the fish brain after a nociceptive event. Novel candidates that showed significant regulation in both species were also identified. In particular, the Van Gogh-like 2 gene, was regulated in both carp and trout and should be pursued to establish its precise role in nociception.


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