Piglet Factsheet


TITLE OF RESEARCH: “Vitamin A is systemically bioavailable
following intratracheal administration with surfactant in an animal model
of newborn respiratory distress.” Pediatr Res. 2010 Jun; 67(6):619-23.

UBC RESEARCHER(S): AJ Singh, V Bronshtein, M Khashu, K Lee, JE Potts, P Chessex, Department of Pediatrics, Children’s and Women’s Health Center of British Columbia, University of British Columbia

ANIMALS USED IN EXPERIMENT: Twelve newborn piglets on their first or second day of life, purchased through the University of British Columbia (UBC) Animal Care facility.

FUNDING SOURCE: This study was supported, in part, by a University Industry grant from the Canadian Institutes of Health Research (Grant #PP277273).

Healthy newborn piglets were experimented on for over four hours. They were anesthetized and, despite the fact that they were breathing naturally, the research team began to ventilate their healthy lungs mechanically. Tubes that supplied the forced breathing air were inserted through a hole cut into the piglets’ throats. Additional instrumentation – for example a catheter through the jugular vein – was then applied to their bodies to monitor the level of oxygen their forced breathing was still supplying to their blood. As these were healthy piglets the researchers needed to injure the piglets’ lungs to study breathing failure. Researchers achieved this by repeatedly filling the piglets’ lungs with salt water, on average 13 times per piglet. Thirty minutes after the lungs had been injured the piglets were treated. To compare the results of three different types of treatments, three groups of piglets were formed and each of the groups given a different treatment. Some of the piglets showed some improvement, though their lungs remained badly injured. One piglet died before the four-hour study period was completed. The remaining eleven piglets were killed by intravenous overdose of pentobarbital after the four hours and their livers were analyzed.