Do cells feel pain?

Frank O. Fackelmayer Frank.Fackelmayer at
Thu Feb 24 15:42:29 EST 2000

Ken Hoekstra wrote:

> Out with the embryo developmental biology books again. I raise this
> question in regards to revisions being made to our Animal Care policies at
> the University of British Columbia. Currently, cell/tissue culture
> requires a  Animal Care Certificate--however, this may change if it is
> determined that "pain", stress or disstress as it is sometimes termed
> cannot be measured at all levels of cell growth etc...
> Im actually looking for resources for ways of determining/measuring stress
> (in the broadest form) in cells. If your cell twitches, flinches
> etc.. during the addition of chemicals etc.., is this stressful or can I
> even go so far as to say "painful" to the cell?
> Could someone define/help me determine when nervous sensation is present
> in developing rat/mice cells (any type) for example? At this time, is it
> possible to measure the "stress" the cell is exposed too?

Well, cells behave strange when you put ethanol into the medium. Would you
say they´re drunken? Do they feel pain? Or do they like it?
It really doesn´t make sense to transfer conceptions describing "whole-body"
effects to cells in culture.
In addition, I  don´t see ethical problems in cell culture work at all. Of
course, culture of embryos is a completely different story!


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