Novel whole body plethysmography system for the continuous characterization of sleep and breathing in a mouse

A. B. Hernandez, J. P. Kirkness, P. L. Smith, H. Schneider, M. Polotsky, R. A. Richardson, W. C. Hernandez, A. R. Schwartz

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

23 Scopus citations


Sleep is associated with marked alterations in ventilatory control that lead to perturbations in respiratory timing, breathing pattern, ventilation, pharyngeal collapsibility, and sleep-related breathing disorders (SRBD). Mouse models offer powerful insight into the pathogenesis of SRBD; however, methods for obtaining the full complement of continuous, high-fidelity respiratory, electroencephalographic (EEG), and electromyographic (EMG) signals in unrestrained mice during sleep and wake have not been developed. We adapted whole body plethysmography to record EEG, EMG, and respiratory signals continuously in unrestrained, unanesthetized mice. Whole body plethysmography tidal volume and airflow signals and a novel noninvasive surrogate for respiratory effort (respiratory movement signal) were validated against simultaneously measured gold standard signals. Compared with the gold standard, we validated 1) tidal volume (correlation, R 2 = 0.87, P < 0.001; and agreement within 1%, P < 0.001); 2) inspiratory airflow (correlation, R 2 = 0.92, P < 0.001; agreement within 4%, P < 0.001); 3) expiratory airflow (correlation, R 2 = 0.83, P < 0.001); and 4) respiratory movement signal (correlation, R 2 = 0.79-0.84, P < 0.001). The expiratory airflow signal, however, demonstrated a decrease in amplitude compared with the gold standard. Integrating respiratory and EEG/EMG signals, we fully characterized sleep and breathing patterns in conscious, unrestrained mice and demonstrated inspiratory flow limitation in a New Zealand Obese mouse. Our approach will facilitate studies of SRBD mechanisms in inbred mouse strains and offer a powerful platform to investigate the effects of environmental and pharmacological exposures on breathing disturbances during sleep and wakefulness.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)671-680
Number of pages10
JournalJournal of applied physiology
Issue number4
StatePublished - Feb 2012
Externally publishedYes


  • Airflow
  • Inspiratory flow limitation
  • Open system
  • Polysomnography
  • Respiratory effort signal
  • Tidal volume
  • Upper airway

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Physiology
  • Physiology (medical)


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