Mechanism of failure of recovery from hypoxic apnea by gasping in 17- to 23-day-old mice

M. S. Jacobi, W. M. Gershan, B. T. Thach

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31 Scopus citations


The mechanism of failure of autoresuscitation from hypoxic apnea in 17- to 23-day-old (weanling) Swiss Webster related/J mice was investigated by recording electrocardiogram (ECG) and ventilation in adult, weanling, and 11-day-old mice. Hypoxic apnea was induced with 97% N2-3% CO2. O2 (21% or 50% O2) or 97% N2-3% CO2 was given at the onset of apnea. The ECG showed no arrhythmias predictive of failure of autoresuscitation. The first indication of failure was a progressive fall in gasp volume ('run down'). This pattern also occurred in animals given continuous 97% N2-3% CO2 and was significantly different from that in mice that survived. Gasping duration in 97% N2 was longer in weanlings than adults but shorter than in 11 day olds. Respiratory and heart rate recovery were more rapid in adults than in weanlings. Although recovery in high O2 was more rapid, the survival rate was not increased. The lack of effect of high O2 on survival and the virtually identical pattern of gasping in mice dying in 97% N2 and air leads us to conclude that in mice that fail to autoresuscitate little or no O2 reaches the medullary respiratory centers. We speculate that this may be due to increased vulnerability of cardiac muscle to anoxia in 17- to 23-day-old mice, resulting in early and severe heart failure.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1098-1105
Number of pages8
JournalJournal of applied physiology
Issue number3
StatePublished - 1991


  • anoxia
  • autoresuscitation
  • gasping
  • heart failure

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