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Biol Neonate. 1992;61(3):201-8.

Interactive ventilatory effects of two respiratory stimulants, caffeine and doxapram, in newborn lambs.

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Department of Pediatrics, McGill University-Montreal, Quebec, Canada.


Caffeine and doxapram are two respiratory stimulants used in the treatment of apnea in newborns. When used concurrently, these drugs may produce interactive effects on the control of breathing in the newborn. The ventilatory effects of these drugs, given alone or together, were measured during 150 min of drug infusion in two groups of awake lambs 2-5 days old. The first group (n = 5) received a caffeine loading dose of 10 mg/kg followed by a maintenance dose of 0.1 mg/kg/h and incremental doses of doxapram: 0.25, 0.5, 1.25 and 2.5 mg/kg/30 min. The second group (n = 5) received a doxapram loading dose of 5.5 mg/kg followed by a maintenance dose of 1 mg/kg/h and incremental doses of caffeine: 2.5, 5.0, 7.5 and 10.0 mg/kg/30 min. In the first group, ventilation increased after the caffeine loading dose from 566 +/- 55 to 680 +/- 74 ml/kg/min (plasma caffeine = 14.7 +/- 1.6 mg/l) and progressively increased with the addition of incremental doses of doxapram up to 1,000 +/- 108 ml/kg/min at 2.5 mg/kg of doxapram (p less than 0.001 compared to baseline and caffeine loading dose). In contrast, in the second group, the doxapram loading dose markedly increased ventilation from 582 +/- 50 to 936 +/- 75 (p less than 0.002 and p less than 0.04 compared to caffeine loading dose) at plasma doxapram of 5.3 +/- 0.8 mg/l, but incremental doses of caffeine had no effects. We conclude that doxapram exerts a brisk and powerful respiratory stimulant effect and produces an additional dose-dependent ventilatory response when added to caffeine.

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