A new method to produce obstructive sleep apnoea in conscious unrestrained rats

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Schoorlemmer, Gerhardus Hermanus Maria [UNIFESP]
Rossi, Marcio V. [UNIFESP]
Tufik, Sergio [UNIFESP]
Cravo, Sergio Luiz. [UNIFESP]
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We developed a new method to produce obstructive apnoea in conscious rats. An inflatable balloon contained in a rigid Teflon tube was implanted in the trachea to allow the induction of apnoea without inducing pain. We also developed a balloon-tipped catheter that was advanced along the trachea into the mediastinum for the measurement of intrathoracic pressure. Rats recovered well from implantation of these balloons. the tracheal implant, while deflated, did not significantly impair normal breathing (thoracic pressure swing during rest was 4.5 +/- 0.4 mm Hg before implantation and 5.8 +/- 0.5 mmHg 4 weeks after implantation; P > 0.2; n = 7). Apnoeas of up to 16 s could be made during rapid eye movement sleep without awakening the rat. During 15 s of balloon inflation, arterial O(2) saturation fell from 98 +/- 0 to 80 +/- 2% and partial pressure of CO(2) increased from 35 +/- 1 to 44 +/- 1 mmHg (n = 9; P < 0.001). Intrathoracic pressure changes during the respiratory cycle increased from 6.3 +/- 0.2 to 38.5 +/- 6.0 mmHg (P < 0.001; n = 4), indicating increased breathing effort. Heart rate fell from 373 +/- 23 to 141 +/- 18 beats min(-1) (P < 0.001; n = 4), and the heart beat became irregular, with few beats during expiratory effort. These responses remained intact after 60 apnoea episodes. Responses developed slightly more slowly when apnoea started at the end than at the beginning of the respiratory cycle. As these balloons last for a long time, cause few complications, allow induction of apnoea during sleep, allow induction of apnoeas that start at a fixed point in the respiratory cycle and elicit cardiorespiratory responses similar to those observed in humans, these balloons may aid investigation of both acute apnoea and chronic intermittent sleep apnoea.
Experimental Physiology. Malden: Wiley-Blackwell, v. 96, n. 10, p. 1010-1018, 2011.