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Inhal Toxicol. 2006 Apr;18(4):305-12. doi: 10.1080/08958370500444361.

Respiration in Sprague-Dawley rats during pregnancy.

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CIIT Centers for Health Research, Research Triangle Park, North Carolina, USA.


Minute ventilation and tidal volume increase in humans during pregnancy. Little data exists, however, on the respiration in pregnant rats, despite their widespread use as an animal model. Since respiration will affect the pharmacokinetics of volatile compounds and ultimately the dose to the fetus, we conducted a study to evaluate respiration in rats during pregnancy. Whole-body plethysmography was used to measure the breathing frequency and tidal volume approximately every other day from gestation day (GD) 1 to 21 in 16 timed pregnant and 16 nonpregnant, female, Sprague-Dawley rats. Minute ventilation was calculated as a product of the breathing frequency and tidal volume, and the body weight of each rat was used to determine the scaled ventilation. Multivariate analysis of variance methods for a repeated-measures design were used to analyze the respiratory data. Breathing frequency was not affected by pregnancy; however, tidal volume was somewhat greater in pregnant versus nonpregnant rats. The increase in tidal volume resulted in significantly increased minute ventilation in pregnant rats compared to nonpregnant rats during the latter period of gestation. Due to the increased body weight of the pregnant rats, the scaled ventilation at the end of gestation was significantly lower in pregnant rats compared to nonpregnant rats. This study provides important reference values that can be used in pharmacokinetic models during pregnancy.

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