Erickson, R. L., Blevins, C. E., De Souza Dyer, C. et al. 2019. Alfaxalone-xylazine anesthesia in laboratory mice (Mus musculus). JAALAS 58(1), 30-39.
Since its recent reformulation, alfaxalone has gained popularity as an injectable veterinary anesthetic, including promising studies demonstrating the use of alfaxalone-xylazine for anesthesia in mice. Here we sought to expand these studies by testing additional dose ranges, elaborating on physiologic monitoring, testing sex- and strain-associated differences, and evaluating efficacy during actual surgical conditions. C57BL/6J mice showed significant sex-associated differences in anesthetic sensitivity, with males requiring higher doses of alfaxalone (80-120 mg/kg IP alfaxalone with 10 mg/kg IP xylazine) than females (40-80 mg/kg IP alfaxalone with 10 mg/kg IP xylazine) to achieve a surgical plane of anesthesia. In addition, female outbred CD1 mice were less sensitive to alfaxalone than female inbred C57BL/6J mice. When used during actual surgery, alfaxalone-xylazine administered intraperitoneally provided adequate anesthesia for a model of orthopedic surgery, whereas the same anesthetic regimen during laparotomy resulted in unacceptably high mortality; survival during laparotomy increased when drugs were administered subcutaneously. These results indicate that alfaxalone-xylazine may be a viable option for injectable surgical anesthesia in mice, although strain- and sex-associated differences and alternative routes of administration should be considered when optimizing the anesthetic regimen for specific experimental conditions.