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Carbon Dioxide Anesthesia Raises Stress Hormones in Rats

Could have implications for laboratory studies

MONDAY, Mar. 2 (HealthDay News) -- Euthanizing laboratory rats by carbon dioxide anesthesia before decapitation, which is considered more humane than direct decapitation, raises the levels of some stress hormones, according to a report published online Feb. 12 in Endocrinology.

Brian Reed, Ph.D., and colleagues from the Rockefeller University in New York City, measured the plasma levels of stress hormones in rats euthanized by either exposure to high levels of carbon dioxide followed by decapitation, or by decapitation alone. Hormone levels were measured by radioimmunoassay and mass spectrometry.

The researchers found that while the levels of adrenocorticotropic hormone remained similar after carbon dioxide exposure, the levels of arginine vasopressin and oxytocin increased by more than 10-fold.

"These surprising findings have important implications for the design and interpretation of studies involving brief carbon dioxide exposure prior to decapitation, as well as those with euthanasia resulting from carbon dioxide-induced asphyxiation," Reed and colleagues conclude.

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