Instillation and fixation methods useful in mouse lung cancer research

Nathachit Limjunyawong, Jason Mock, Wayne Mitzner

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

16 Scopus citations


The ability to instill live agents, cells, or chemicals directly into the lung without injuring or killing the mice is an important tool in lung cancer research. Although there are a number of methods that have been published showing how to intubate mice for pulmonary function measurements, none are without potential problems for rapid tracheal instillation in large cohorts of mice. In the present paper, a simple and quick method is described that enables an investigator to carry out such instillations in an efficient manner. The method does not require any special tools or lighting and can be learned with very little practice. It involves anesthetizing a mouse, making a small incision in the neck to visualize the trachea, and then inserting an intravenous catheter directly. The small incision is quickly closed with tissue adhesive, and the mice are allowed to recover. A skilled student or technician can do instillations at an average rate of 2 min/mouse. Once the cancer is established, there is frequently a need for quantitative histologic analysis of the lungs. Traditionally pathologists usually do not bother to standardize lung inflation during fixation, and analyses are often based on a scoring system that can be quite subjective. While this may sometime be sufficiently adequate for gross estimates of the size of a lung tumor, any proper stereological quantification of lung structure or cells requires a reproducible fixation procedure and subsequent lung volume measurement. Here we describe simple reliable procedures for both fixing the lungs under pressure and then accurately measuring the fixed lung volume. The only requirement is a laboratory balance that is accurate over a range of 1 mg–300 g. The procedures presented here thus could greatly improve the ability to create, treat, and analyze lung cancers in mice.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article numbere52964
Pages (from-to)1-9
Number of pages9
JournalJournal of Visualized Experiments
Issue number102
StatePublished - Aug 31 2015


  • Lung fixation
  • Lung histology
  • Lung intubation
  • Lung morphometry
  • Lung stereology
  • Lung volume
  • Medicine

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Neuroscience(all)
  • Chemical Engineering(all)
  • Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology(all)
  • Immunology and Microbiology(all)


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