Blood gas concentrations and pH in rats treated with acute injections of heroin

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The effects of different dosages of heroin on respiration were determined by evaluating arterial blood pO2, pCO2, and pH in naive animals. Female Sprague-Dawley rats were treated (s.c.) acutely with either 0.5, 1.0, 5.0, or 10.0 mg/kg heroin; appropriate saline controls were utilized. Blood was sampled from the tail artery before injection and 15, 30, 60, 120, 180, and 240 min postinjection. All animals exposed to heroin exhibited a respiratory depression that involved hypoxemia, hypercapnia and/or acidosis. In all heroin-treated groups, pO2 values were significantly reduced by 15 min postinjection and maximal changes in pO2, pCO2, and pH were reached 30 min after heroin administration. Both the magnitude and length of time of heroin's effect on respiration were dose-dependent. This study demonstrated that acute heroin administration is associated with respiratory depression, with the extent of alterations in pO2, pCO2, and pH related to drug dosage.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)235-249
Number of pages15
JournalResearch Communications in Substances of Abuse
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - Jan 1 1980


All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Medicine (miscellaneous)

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