Developmental changes in cold tolerance and ability to autoresuscitate from hypothermic respiratory arrest are not linked in rats and hamsters
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In adult mammals, severe hypothermia leads to respiratory and cardiac arrest, followed by death. Neonatal rats and hamsters can survive much lower body temperatures and, upon artificial rewarming, spontaneously recover from respiratory arrest (autoresuscitate), typically suffering no long-term effects. To determine developmental and species differences in cold tolerance (defined here as the temperature of respiratory arrest) and its relation to the ability to autoresuscitate, we cooled neonatal and juvenile Sprague-Dawley rats and Syrian hamsters until respiration ceased, followed by rewarming. Ventilation and heartbeat were continuously monitored. In rats, cold tolerance did not change throughout development, however the ability to autoresuscitate from hypothermic respiratory arrest did (lost between postnatal days, P, 14 and 20), suggesting that the mechanisms for maintaining breathing at low temperatures was retained throughout development while those initiating breathing on rewarming were altered. Hamsters, however, showed increased cold tolerance until P26-28 and were able to autoresuscitate into adulthood (provided the heart kept beating throughout respiratory arrest). Also, hamsters were more cold tolerant than rats. We saw no evidence of gasping to initiate breathing following respiratory arrest, contributing to the hypothesis that hypothermic respiratory arrest does not lead to anoxia. (C) 2012 Elsevier B.V. All rights reserved.