Non-invasive system for applying airway obstructions to model obstructive sleep apnea in mice

Abstract Obstructive sleep apnea (OSA) is characterized by recurrent upper airway obstructions during sleep. The most common animal model of OSA is based on subjecting rodents to intermittent hypoxic exposures and does not mimic important OSA features, such as recurrent hypercapnia and increased inspiratory efforts. To circumvent some of these issues, a novel murine model involving non-invasive application of recurrent airway obstructions was developed. An electronically controlled airbag system is placed in front of the mouse’s snout, whereby inflating the airbag leads to obstructed breathing and spontaneous breathing occurs with the airbag deflated. The device was tested on 29 anesthetized mice by measuring inspiratory effort and arterial oxygen saturation (SaO2). Application of recurrent obstructive apneas (6 s each, 120/h) for 6 h resulted in SaO2 oscillations to values reaching 84.4 ± 2.5% nadir, with swings mimicking OSA patients. This novel system, capable of applying controlled recurrent airway obstructions in mice, is an easy-to-use tool for investigating pertinent aspects of OSA. Keywords Animal model; Upper airway Obstruction; Mouse model; Non-invasive system; Model sleep apnea;Respiratory disease