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Physiol Behav. 2004 Sep 15;82(2-3):279-83.

A simple method for short-term controlled anesthesia in newborn mice.

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Developmental Neurology and Physiology Laboratory, INSERM E9935, Robert-Debré Teaching Hospital, 48 Bd Sérurier, 75019 Paris, France.


In this study, we describe a simple and inexpensive method for inducing short-term anesthesia and rapid recovery in newborn mice. Litters of Swiss mice pups were randomly allocated to testing on postnatal days 2, 5, and 8. Anesthesia was induced by placing the pup in a syringe and adding a volume of isoflurane-saturated gas that produced an estimated level of 32% isoflurane. Exposure to isoflurane lasted 30 s. All the pups survived the anesthesia. At all study ages, this method abolished the nociceptive response to tail clamp without inducing mortality, thus showing effective anesthesia. Recovery from anesthesia was assessed immediately after isoflurane exposure, based on two nonnoxious behavioral tests: the defensive response to a drop of water (10 tests, 1 min apart) and 10 min later the righting reflex, i.e., the time to recovery of the prone position (five tests, 10 min apart). The water drop test scores increased during the recovery phase toward the control values in all age groups. Treatment and time had no significant effect on righting reflex scores. The initial volume in the syringe, the volume of added isoflurane-saturated gas, and the duration of exposure may be adjusted according to postnatal age and specific strains or species (e.g., rats). This method is well suited to behavioral or physiological phenotype studies in developing mice, in which noxious procedures must precede functional testing, making rapid recovery from anesthesia a key requirement.

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