Isoflurane with morphine is a suitable anaesthetic regimen for embryo transfer in the production of transgenic rats

Lab Anim. 2004 Jan;38(1):38-43. doi: 10.1258/00236770460734371.


During our initial attempts to produce transgenic rats, we found that an anaesthetic combination typically used for embryo transfer (intramuscular injection of ketamine [90 mg/kg] with xylazine [10 mg/kg]) yielded extensive variation in both the depth and length of anaesthesia. In the present prospective study, we compared the reproductive outcomes afforded by using either isoflurane (5% for induction, 2% for maintenance, carried in 2 l/min of oxygen) with morphine (5 mg/kg s.c., given immediately after isoflurane induction) or ketamine/xylazine in adult (250-300 g), pseudopregnant Sprague-Dawley rats. Each animal was anaesthetized with either isoflurane/morphine or ketamine/xylazine, after which 30 microinjected eggs were transferred into the left uterine horn. The mean pregnancy rate for isoflurane/morphine (15%) was 50% greater than that achieved with ketamine/xylazine (10%). The mean number of live pups (just over five per litter) was comparable for both regimens. All rats given isoflurane/morphine quickly achieved a surgical depth of anaesthesia and experienced a rapid postoperative recovery (3-5 min). In contrast, 25% of rats injected with ketamine/xylazine did not reach a depth of anaesthesia within 10 min that was sufficient for laparotomy, and all that were anaesthetized successfully required an extended postoperative recovery period (60-90 min). These data show that isoflurane/morphine is well tolerated by microinjected embryos and suggest that its use during embryo transfer may provide a means for both reducing the number of pseudopregnant females used and increasing the speed with which rat transgenic projects are completed.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study

MeSH terms

  • Anesthetics, Inhalation / administration & dosage*
  • Animals
  • Animals, Genetically Modified*
  • Embryo Implantation
  • Embryo Transfer / veterinary*
  • Female
  • Isoflurane / administration & dosage*
  • Ketamine / administration & dosage
  • Male
  • Morphine / administration & dosage*
  • Pregnancy
  • Pseudopregnancy
  • Rats*
  • Rats, Inbred Lew
  • Rats, Sprague-Dawley
  • Xylazine / administration & dosage


  • Anesthetics, Inhalation
  • Xylazine
  • Ketamine
  • Morphine
  • Isoflurane