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Tianwei Ellen Zhou, Diane N. Sayah, Baraa Noueihed, Javier Mazzaferri, Santiago Costantino, Isabelle Brunette, Sylvain Chemtob; Preventing Corneal Calcification Associated With Xylazine for Longitudinal Optical Coherence Tomography in Young Rodents. Invest. Ophthalmol. Vis. Sci. 2017;58(1):461-469. doi: 10.1167/iovs.16-20526.
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© 2017 Association for Research in Vision and Ophthalmology.
Spectral-domain optical coherence tomography (SD-OCT) is widely used in clinical ophthalmology and recently gained popularity in laboratory research involving small rodents. Its noninvasive nature allows repeated measurements, thereby decreasing the number of animals required. However, when used at a conventional dosage, xylazine (an α2-adrenoceptor) can cause irreversible corneal calcification, especially among young rodents. In the present study, we test whether corneal calcification associated with xylazine is mediated by the α2-adrenoceptor.
Our study tested Sprague-Dawley rats, Long-Evans rats, and CD-1 mice (postnatal day [P]14). Retinal images were captured by SD-OCT. Quantitative PCR (qPCR) was used to study gene expression, whereas receptor localization was examined by immunofluorescent staining followed by confocal microscopy. Calcium deposits were detected via von Kossa staining.
When used at dosages appropriate for adult animals, ketamine-xylazine anesthetics led to a high rate of respiratory failure, increased apoptotic activity in the corneal epithelium, and irreversible corneal calcification in P14 rat pups. Meanwhile, OCT image quality decreased drastically as a result of corneal calcification among animals recovering from anesthesia. α2-Adrenoceptor subtypes were highly expressed on P14, in line with rodents' age-specific sensitivity to xylazine. Clonidine, a potent α2-adrenoceptor agonist, dose-dependently induced corneal calcification, which could be prevented by an α2-adrenoceptor antagonist.
These data suggest that α2-adrenoceptors contribute to corneal calcification in young rodents. Therefore, we developed a suitable OCT imaging protocol for this cohort, including a carefully tailored ketamine-xylazine dosage (60 mg/kg and 2.5 kg/mg, respectively).
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