Design and evaluation of a restraint-free small animal inhalation dosing chamber

Jason T. McConville, Robert O. Williams, Thiago C. Carvalho, Aimee N. Iberg, Keith P. Johnston, Robert L. Talbert, David Burgess, Jay I. Peters

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

20 Scopus citations


The aim of research was to design a small, restraint free, low stress animal dosing chamber for inhalation studies, and to investigate distribution of a model drug within the chamber. A small animal dosing chamber was designed that consisted of a polymethylmethacrylate (PMMA) airtight box (40.6 × 11.4 × 21.6 cm) with a hinged top, having a nominal wall thickness of 1.25 cm. The chamber was designed to hold up to 14 mice, each having a floor area of approximately 63 cm2, in accordance with Institutional Animal Care and Use Committee (IACUC) guidelines. A "rodent proof" distribution fan was attached to the center of the hinged closure lid. The chamber was divided into 1 inch2 zones (120 in total) to enable a profile of drug distribution within the chamber to be obtained. Small holes were drilled into the side of the chamber and sealed using Parafilm® to allow access to the sampling zones. Syringes (5 mL) with appropriate length polytetrafluoroethylene (PTFE) tubing were inserted into the holes to reach the sampling zones (eight on either side of the chamber giving a total of 16 zones). An aqueous caffeine solution (2% w/v) in glycerol (25% w/v) was prepared and nebulized into the chamber using an Aeroneb Pro® nebulizer. Caffeine containing droplets were circulated into the chamber at a flow rate of 1.5 L/min-1, and the air was recirculated in a closed system for a total of 20 minutes to ensure a high concentration of caffeine droplets throughout. Following nebulization, air samples (5 mL) were withdrawn from the 16 sampling zones of the sealed chamber. The process was repeated in quadruplet until a total of 64 sampling zones had been sampled. The entire experiment was also repeated with the absence of the "rodent-proof" distribution fan. Drug concentrations were calculated from a calibration curve of caffeine using UV absorbance at 272 nm. An average mass of caffeine (Standard Deviation; S.D.) of 5.0 (4.2) mg was detected throughout the chamber when the distribution fan was fitted, and caffeine 12.6 (9.7) mg was detected without the fan. This indicated that presence of the fan caused impingement of the drug on both the chamber walls and fan components; effectively removing nebulized drug from circulation within the chamber. The distribution of drug was plotted using a 3D graph; this revealed a lower concentration at the periphery and a higher concentration in the center of the chamber both with and without the distribution fan in place. In conclusion, a humane, nonrestraint rodent dosing chamber was designed for the efficient delivery of nebulized drugs for up to 14 mice simultaneously. The highest levels of the model drug caffeine were detectable throughout the small animal dosing chamber without the distribution fan. A circulation flow rate of 1.5 L/min -1 was found to be adequate to distribute drug in the chamber. Surprisingly, the results demonstrate that avoiding the use of a distribution fan altogether maximizes the drug concentration within the chamber by reducing impingement of the nebulized drug. The small animal, restraint-free dosing chamber represents an advancement in reproducible dosing via the pulmonary route in the small animal model. The dosing chamber may be adapted to present the lung with an almost unlimited array of compounds, encompassing drugs, toxic compounds, and even pathogens, while still maintaining a relatively stress-free microenvironment for the test subject and furthermore, total safety for the operator.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)35-42
Number of pages8
JournalDrug Development and Industrial Pharmacy
Issue number1
StatePublished - 2005

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
Financial support for this study from The Dow Chemical Company is gratefully acknowledged.


  • Animal stress
  • Drug distribution
  • Mouse lung
  • Restraint-free dosing
  • Whole body exposure

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pharmacology
  • Pharmaceutical Science
  • Drug Discovery
  • Organic Chemistry


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