Other Talks in the Series: Animal Models in Biomedical Research

Welcome to this anesthesia lecture inserted into the Animal Models in Biomedical Research Training Program. My name is Luis Antunes. And I work at University of Trias-os-Montes and Alto Douro.
What are the objectives of this lecture? The main objective use is to recognize why anesthesia is important in laboratory animal sciences, to identify the different the periods of anesthesia, to understand different anesthesia components, to identify different groups drugs, to identify what is the best practice in anesthesia in laboratory animal sciences with this lecture divided in two parts.
So what is general anesthesia? General anesthesia is a reversible intoxication process from the central nervous system. It is a state of unconsciousness with loss of protective reflexes. It is a state resulting from the administration of one or more agents. So having said this, we need to conclude that the optimal combination for any given animal and procedure needs to be selected. So it's the selection of several drugs that will give us the optimal combination for a certain procedure.
And we need to be aware that anesthesiologists have learned a lot in the last 100 years. So the evolution has been fantastic in the human field. And that has been translated into animals as well. So we need to be aware from the new developments to translate that to our patients, to our animals.
So why do we do anesthesia in laboratory animals? One of the reasons we all think to allow surgery, of course, to avoid stress responses and to control pain responses as well. So this is the main reasons to do anesthesia. Immobilization of animals is also an important issue, one of the reasons to do anesthesia. Or course, animals do not understand me. So I need to put them to sleep. This is a common problem, which in humans quite often we don't have that kind of problem. And of course, it's not because I need to have access to some drugs for recreation activities. And be careful with this, because actually, it's our responsibility to track and maintain records for all drugs being used in a lab animals facility. So we also have concerns regarding anesthesia. So our concerns in using anesthesia is because we have animal welfare concerns. We want to promote welfare. We want to control pain. And we do know that we are doing anesthesia because we have a potential need from surgery. And when we do this, what you want is to refine the procedures so we are working under the three Rs, under the refinement R. So we want to do the procedure better. But when we do anesthesia, we do know that there are potential artifacts by the anesthesia in the animal model. So things like depth of anesthesia and clinical responses need to be controlled to reduce the potential artifacts induced by anesthesia. If you put it all together, we have reasons and we have concerns. We need to weigh all those to come into solution, which is to propose an anesthesia protocol. So we need to weight advantages, disadvantages, concerns, and propose an anesthesia protocol.
It's important for us now that we think that we actually have different hats. As a veterinarian, we are used to doing anesthesia due to clinical reasons. But here in laboratory animal science, you need to think that actually we have also the research concerns. So we've untangled all the animal welfare concerns, the reasons for anesthesia regarding that, but we also need to think about the research. And in the research, we need to think that actually we need to promote these three Rs. So it's important when we deal with the project to have these different visions.
And it's important for us to understand that's we are actually in a middle process to translate something that the researcher has done work that has been developed at the bench, which needs to be translated ultimately to, for instance, for human consumption. And we are here in the middle promoting research translation, but using animals in the middle. So we need to look to the welfare of animals to the quality and also to the quality of the results. So this the kind of balance that you need to be aware when we do our work.
We do should have questions when we prepare protocol. And the questions are, what is the procedures? What is the duration of the procedure? What is the age of the animals we are going to use, the species, the strain, the genetic background from those animals? So these are questions that we need to have the answers before giving the step forwards to decide what type of drugs dose is the root that we are going to use. And here I put doses because I related that with depth of anesthesia and the clinical symptoms that we're going to have. We have also concerns relating with anesthesia and the three Rs. We need to think about these potential concerns. What are the effects of anesthesia regarding clinical implications, for instance, burn responses, cognition and behavior? If I do anesthesia, what is the implication on potential behavior responses, on imaging, on cardiovascular responses? We need to think that potentially anesthesia may change research projects. And they may actually may contributes to differences between results and for wrong conclusions. So it is a refinement. But you need to be aware of these refinements with potential implications on the result. We did integrate all this information and then propose what we think is the best protocol. And the best protocol is the best for the animal together with being the best for your project.