Thursday, April 21, 2005

Hydrogen sulfide gas causes mice to enter a hibernation-like state

BBC NEWS | Science/Nature | Mice put in 'suspended animation'

Once every two weeks I read something that makes my jaw drop and my eyes bug out. This is happening more often, so either I'm getting more sensitive with age or the world is moving way fast. This announcement qualified.
...The researchers from the University of Washington and the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center in Seattle put the mice in a chamber filled with air laced with 80 parts per million (ppm) of hydrogen sulphide (H2S) - the malodorous gas that give rotten eggs their stink.

Hydrogen sulphide can be deadly in high concentrations. But it is also produced normally in humans and animals, and is believed to help regulate body temperature and metabolic activity...

....Dr Roth and his colleagues found that the mice stopped moving and appeared to lose consciousness within minutes of breathing the air and H2S mixture.

The animals' breathing rates dropped from the normal 120 breaths per minute to less than 10 breaths per minute.

During exposure their metabolic rates dropped by an astonishing 90%, and their core body temperatures fell from 37C to as low as 11C.

After six hours' exposure to the mixture, the mice were given fresh air. Their metabolic rate and core body temperature returned to normal, and tests showed they had suffered no ill effects.
Mice can enter a similar state when they are starving. Human's don't have a physiologic state like this, so I'm betting this won't work in humans. Nonetheless, it is stunning.

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