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Evaluation of the anesthetic effects of MS222 in the adult Mexican axolotl (Ambystoma mexicanum)

Authors Zullian C, Dodelet-Devillers A, Roy S, Vachon P

Received 20 September 2015

Accepted for publication 23 November 2015

Published 5 January 2016 Volume 2016:7 Pages 1—7

DOI https://doi.org/10.2147/VMRR.S96761

Checked for plagiarism Yes

Review by Single-blind

Peer reviewers approved by Dr Antonio Ortega-Pacheco

Peer reviewer comments 3

Editor who approved publication: Professor Young Lyoo


Chiara Zullian,1 Aurore Dodelet-Devillers,1 Stéphane Roy,2 Pascal Vachon1

1Département de Biomédecine Vétérinaire, Faculté de Médecine Vétérinaire, Université de Montréal, Saint-Hyacinthe, 2Département de Stomatologie, Faculté de Médecine Dentaire, Montréal, Québec, Canada

Abstract: The Mexican axolotl (Ambystoma mexicanum) is a unique research model in several fields of medicine, where surgical and invasive procedures may be required. As yet, little is known about the efficacy of MS222 (tricaine methanesulfonate), which is the most commonly used anesthetic agent in amphibians. The main objectives of this study were to evaluate the anesthetic effects and physiological changes in adult axolotls following a 20-minute immersion bath, containing progressive MS222 concentrations starting at 0.1%. Depth of anesthesia and physiological changes were evaluated every 15 minutes post-MS222 exposure with the following parameters: righting behavior, withdrawal reflex, acetic acid test response, heart rate, and blood oxygen saturation, as well as cloacal and body surface temperatures. A 20-minute exposure in a 0.1% MS222 immersion bath (n=6 animals) had no anesthetic effects on adult axolotls after 20 minutes of exposure. With a 0.2% MS222 solution, all axolotls (n=9) were deeply anesthetized at 15 minutes, and 80% were still unresponsive at 30 minutes postexposure. Blood oxygen saturation and heart rate were slightly, but significantly, increased when compared with the baseline value and remained stable up to recovery. There was no significant increase in surface and cloaca temperatures, compared with baseline. With the 0.4% MS222 solution, the duration of anesthesia lasted for 90 minutes to at least 120 minutes (n=3 animals) and this concentration was deemed too high. In conclusion, a 20-minute immersion bath with 0.2% MS222 may be used for short procedures (15–30 minutes) requiring anesthesia of adult axolotls.

Keywords: Ambystoma mexicanum, axolotl, amphibians, anesthesia, pain

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