West, S. E., Lee, J. C., Johns, T. N. et al. 2020. Intraperitoneal alfaxalone and alfaxalone–dexmedetomidine anesthesia in Sprague–Dawley rats (Rattus norvegicus). JAALAS 59(5), 531-538.

Due to their unpredictability and variable effects, injectable anesthetic regimens in laboratory rodent species warrant refinement. In our study we sought to evaluate alfaxalone, which has gained recent popularity in veterinary medicine, alone and in combination with dexmedetomidine to evaluate their anesthetic ability in Sprague–Dawley rats when administered intraperitoneally. Three doses of alfaxalone only and 4 dose combinations of alfaxalone-dexmedetomidine were tested in males and female rats. The time to induction, anesthetic duration, pulse rate, respiratory rate, temperature, and time to recovery were recorded by a blind observer. The level of anesthesia induced by the various anesthetic protocols was assessed by using pedal withdrawal reflex to a noxious stimulus and scored according to the response. Dependent on the treatment group, atipamezole or saline was administered intraperitoneally once animals reached 60 min of anesthesia. Regardless of the dose, alfaxalone alone achieved only a sedative level of anesthesia, whereas all alfaxalone-dexmedetomidine combinations led to a surgical level of anesthesia in all animals. Anesthesia regimens using alfaxalone alone and in combination with dexmedetomidine demonstrated sex-associated differences, with female rats maintaining longer durations of sedation or anesthesia than their male counterparts. Both male and female rats displayed decreases in physiologic parameters consistent with the effects of dexmedetomidine. Given the results described herein, we recommend 20 mg/kg alfaxalone for sedation and 30 mg/kg alfaxalone combined with 0.05 mg/kg dexmedetomidine for surgical anesthesia in female rats. Appropriate doses of alfaxalone only and alfaxalone-dexmedetomidine for male rats were not determined in this study and need further evaluation.

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