Complete thymectomy in adult rats with non-invasive endotracheal intubation.
Thymectomy in neonatal rodents is an established and reliable procedure for immunological studies. However, in adult rats, complications of hemorrhage and pneumothorax from pleural disruption can result in a significant mortality rate. This protocol is a simple method of rat thymectomy that utilizes a mini-sternotomy and endotracheal intubation. Intubation is accomplished with a non-invasive and easily reproducible method and allows for positive pressure ventilation to prevent pneumothorax and a controlled airway that allows sufficient time for careful thymus dissection to minimize pleural disruption. A 1.5 cm sternal incision decreases contact with mediastinal vessels and pleura, while still providing full visualization of the thymus. Following exposure of the mediastinum, the thymus is removed by blunt dissection under magnification. The pleural space is then sealed by suture closure of the pre-tracheal muscles followed by the application of surgical glue. The thorax is then closed by suture closure of the sternum, followed by suture closure of the skin. All thymectomies were complete as evidenced by immunohistochemical (IHC) staining of mediastinal tissue, and absence of naïve T-cells by flow cytometry, and the procedure had a 96% survival rate. This method is suitable when complete thymectomy with minimal complications is desired for further immunological studies in athymic adult rats.
Rendell, VR; Giamberardino, C; Li, J; Markert, ML; Brennan, TV
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