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The effects of morphine on gas exchange, ventilation pattern and ventilatory responses to hypercapnia and hypoxia in dwarf caiman (Paleosuchus palpebrosus)

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Morphine and other opioids cause respiratory depression in high doses and lower the ventilatory responses to hypoxia and hypercapnia in mammals. Recent studies indicate that turtles respond similarly, but although they are used routinely for post surgical analgesia, little is known about the physiological effects of opioids in reptiles. We therefore investigated the effects of morphine (10 and 20 mg kg(-1)) on gas exchange and ventilation in six dwarf caiman (Paleosuchus palpebrosus) using pneumotachography in a crossover design. Intraperitoneal injections of morphine changed the ventilation pattern from a typical intermittent/periodic pattern with a few or several breaths in ventilatory bouts to single breaths and prolonged the apnoea, such that respiratory frequency was depressed, while tidal volume was elevated. Furthermore, the duration of inspiration and especially expiration was prolonged. The resulting decrease in minute ventilation was attended by a lowering of the respiratory exchange ratio (RER) (especially for 20 mg kg(-1) dose) indicating CO2 retention with a long time constant for approaching the new steady state. The changes in ventilation pattern and gas exchange reached a new stable level approximately 3h after the morphine injection and did not significantly affect steady state O-2 uptake, i.e. O-2 consumption. As expected, the ventilatory response to 5% O-2 was lower in morphine-treated caimans, but minute ventilation upon exposure to 2% CO2 did not differ significantly different from control animals.

TidsskriftComparative Biochemistry and Physiology A-Molecular & Integrative Physiology
Sider (fra-til)60-65
Antal sider6
StatusUdgivet - aug. 2018

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