Khoo, S. Y.-S., Lay, B. P. P., Joya, J. et al. 2018. Local anaesthetic refinement of pentobarbital euthanasia reduces abdominal writhing without affecting immunohistochemical endpoints in rats. Laboratory Animals 52(2), 152-162.
Sodium pentobarbital is a commonly used agent for euthanizing laboratory rats, however its high pH can cause abdominal discomfort after intraperitoneal injection. Previous studies suggest that the addition of a local anaesthetic may alleviate this discomfort, but the practice has not been widely adopted. We examined the effect of combining lidocaine with pentobarbital on abdominal writhing, defecation, ultrasonic vocalizations, the rat grimace scale and immunohistochemical staining for c-Fos in the nucleus accumbens and basolateral amygdala of the brain. We also compared the amount of abdominal writhing following intraperitoneal administration of pentobarbital–lidocaine with that of pentobarbital–bupivacaine. Our results show that lidocaine reduces abdominal writhing and defecation without affecting immunohistochemistry for c-Fos or latency to loss of posture. However, scores on the rat grimace scale were low in both situations and almost no ultrasonic vocalizations were recorded. Additionally, we found that the amount of abdominal writhing was not significantly different when bupivacaine was used rather than lidocaine. Our results suggest that pentobarbital-induced euthanasia can be refined with the addition of lidocaine or other local anaesthetics.