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J Am Assoc Lab Anim Sci. 2012 Mar;51(2):155-61.

Carbon dioxide and oxygen levels in disposable individually ventilated cages after removal from mechanical ventilation.

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Department of Comparative Medicine, Stanford University School of Medicine, Stanford, California, USA.


Disposable individually ventilated cages have lids that restrict air exchange when the cage is not mechanically ventilated. This design feature may cause intracage CO2 to increase and O2 to decrease (hypercapnic and hypoxic conditions, respectively) when the electrical supply to the ventilated rack fails, the ventilated rack malfunctions, cages are docked in the rack incorrectly, or cages are removed from the ventilated rack for extended periods of time. We investigated how quickly hypercapnic and hypoxic conditions developed within disposable individually ventilated cages after removal from mechanical ventilation and compared the data with nondisposable static cages, disposable static cages, and unventilated nondisposable individually ventilated cages. When disposable individually ventilated cages with 5 adult mice per cage were removed from mechanical ventilation, CO2 concentrations increased from less than 1% at 0 h to approximately 5% at 3 h and O2 levels dropped from more than 20% at 0 h to 11.7% at 6 h. The breathing pattern of the mice showed a prominent abdominal component (hyperventilation). Changes were similar for 4 adult mice per cage, reaching at least 5% CO2 at 4 h and 13.0% O2 at 6 h. For 3 or 2 mice per cage, values were 4.6% CO2 and 14.7% O2 and 3.04% CO2 and 17.1% O2, respectively, at 6 h. These results document that within disposable individually ventilated cages, a hypercapnic and hypoxic microenvironment develops within hours in the absence of mechanical ventilation.

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