Indian Journal of Pharmacology Home 

[Download PDF]
Year : 2013  |  Volume : 45  |  Issue : 1  |  Page : 103--104

Normative data for arterial blood gas and electrolytes in anesthetized rats

Rajam Krishna Subramanian1, Anita Sidharthan2, Delinda Maneksh3, Latha Ramalingam4, A Soosai Manickam5, Praghalathan Kanthakumar5, Sathya Subramani5,  
1 Department of Physiology, Sree Balaji Medical College, Chennai, India
2 Department of Physiology, Travancore Medical College, Kollam, India
3 Department of Physiology, Dr. Somervel Memorial C.S.I. Medical College, Karakonam, India
4 Department of Physiology, Sri Sathya Sai Medical College, Chennai, India
5 Department of Physiology, Christian Medical College, Vellore, Tamil Nadu, India

Correspondence Address:
Sathya Subramani
Department of Physiology, Christian Medical College, Vellore, Tamil Nadu

How to cite this article:
Subramanian RK, Sidharthan A, Maneksh D, Ramalingam L, Manickam A S, Kanthakumar P, Subramani S. Normative data for arterial blood gas and electrolytes in anesthetized rats.Indian J Pharmacol 2013;45:103-104

How to cite this URL:
Subramanian RK, Sidharthan A, Maneksh D, Ramalingam L, Manickam A S, Kanthakumar P, Subramani S. Normative data for arterial blood gas and electrolytes in anesthetized rats. Indian J Pharmacol [serial online] 2013 [cited 2022 Oct 2 ];45:103-104
Available from:

Full Text


Rats are useful models to study acid/base and respiratory parameters in preclinical trials and toxicological studies. Normative data for arterial blood gases (ABG) and electrolytes would help identify healthy animals for the experiments. Studies report ABG values in awake rats. [1],[2],[3],[4],[5],[6],[7] In awake rats, mean pH has been found to be more than 7.4 and mean P a CO 2 less than 41 mmHg. In anesthetized rats, there is considerable respiratory depression resulting in lower pH and higher P a CO 2 . [6],[8] We report values obtained in rats anesthetized with intraperitoneal ketamine. The values are from the first samples obtained in anesthetized rats used in various toxicological experiments.

Values of ABG and serum electrolytes in the first arterial blood sample obtained from 106 rats used for various toxicological studies have been collated in this study to provide descriptive statistics. Wistar rats (150-300 gm) were used for the experiments after obtaining clearance from the Institutional Animal Ethics Committee. The rats were bred and housed at the institutional animal housing facility with adequate lighting and ventilation. Food and water were provided ad libitum. Animals were anesthetized with Ketamine (50-100mg/kgb.w., i.p.). 0.25 ml of 1000 IU/ml of Heparin was injected into the animal at the time of cannulation. Immediately after cannulation 0.25 ml of blood was withdrawn from the carotid artery and kept aside for reinfusion later. Another 0.25 ml was withdrawn and injected into the cartridge (iSTAT, EG7 cartridge) without any delay for ABG and electrolyte analysis; Care was taken to avoid air bubbles. Blood pH, PCO 2 , PO 2 , bicarbonate, sodium, potassium were taken for the analysis. Box plots and frequency distribution plots were plotted using SPSS software.

The ABG values in anesthetized rats are presented in [Table 1].Frequency distribution plots [Figure 1] show the distribution of data around the mean. The plots for blood pH, PCO 2 , PO 2 , sodium and potassium almost follow a normal Gaussian curve. Tests of Normality for the above parameters show that there is very little deviation from normality. The p values for the Normality tests (Shapiro-Wilk's test)are as follows: blood pH - 0.474, PCO 2 - 0.386, PO 2 - 0.12, bicarbonate - 0.656, sodium - 0.124, potassium - 0.078. The observed frequency distributions are not significantly different from the expected normal distribution pattern. The box plots show the interquartile range and outliers for the above parameters [Figure 2]. {Figure 1}{Figure 2}{Table 1}

Availability of normative arterial blood gas and electrolyte data in anesthetized animals can help in selection of healthy animals for experimentation. There are studies which report ABG values in anesthetized rats but considerable respiratory depression is reported in those rats. [6],[8] Here we report normative arterial blood gas data in rats anesthetized with ketamine IP. The normal mean blood pH, PCO 2 and PO 2 values in awake un-anesthetized rats reported earlier are 7.47±0.02, 34.5±3 mmHg, 90 ±5.5 mmHg and 25.5±1.5mmol/l. [6] The same study compares the values in awake un-anesthetized rats and anesthetized rats and concludes that anesthesia causes respiratory depression in the rats and the values are significantly different from the un-anesthetized rats. The blood pH, PCO 2 , PO 2 and bicarbonate values in rats anesthetized with Pentobarbitol and In actin were 7.365±0.1, 42.5±3.5 mmHg, 69.5±5 mmHg and 26.5±1.9mmol/l respectively. [6] The PO 2 and bicarbonate values of the present study are comparable to the values in awake un-anesthetized rats [6] whereas the PCO 2 and blood pH values are different. The reported hypoxia in anesthetized rats is not seen in the present study. In addition, acidosis is milder in our study as compared to previous studies. [6] This difference could be because of the anesthetic used or due to the procedure per se. Rats without intervention in this study, survive for more than eight hours with frequent top-up doses of ketamine. Cannulation in rats does not affect the acid base status according to a previous study. [7] Therefore the ABG values of the present study can serve as normative control data for toxicological experiments.

For choice of healthy animals for experimentation it is suggested that their values lie within two SDs (or one SD, if less biological variability is required) above or below the mean for each value shown in [Table 1]. Alternatively the 25 th to 75 th interquartile range may be used as inclusion criteria [Table 1].


1Altland PD, Brubach HF, Parker MG, Highman B. Blood gases and acid base values of un-anesthetized rats exposed to hypoxia. Am J Physiol 1967;212:142-8.
2Lewis LD, Ponten U, Siesjo BK. Arterial acid-base changes in un-anesthetized rats in acute hypoxia. Respir Physiol 1973;19:312-21.
3MarderJ, Bar-Ilan A. Acid-base metabolism in the albino rat during hypercapnia. Physiol Zool 1975;48:282-9.
4Pepelko WE, Dixon GA. Arterial blood gases in conscious rats exposed to hypoxia, hypercapnia, or both. J Appl Physiol 1975;38:581-7.
5Bar-Ilan A, Marder J. Acid-base status in un-anesthetized Guinea pigs. Pflugers Arch 1980;384:93-7.
6Brun-Pascaud M, Gaudebout C, Blayo MC, Pocidalo JJ. Arterial blood gases and acid-base status in awake rats. Respir Physiol 1982;48:45-57.
7Girard P, Brun-Pascaud M, Pocidalo JJ. Acid-base status of awake rats after cannulation of aorta and vena cava. Kidney Int 1983;24:795-9.
8Kaczmarczyk G, Reinhardt HW. Arterial blood gas tensions and acid-base status of wistar rats during thiopental and halothane anesthesia. Lab Anim Sci 1975;25:184-90.