Researchers have shown that in low oxygen conditions, some animals can breathe through the anus. This helps them to survive in difficult situations and does not damage vital organs.
Rodents and pigs, as well as several other aquatic organisms, are able to use the intestines for respiration – a study on this appeared in Med. Scientists have demonstrated that the delivery of oxygen gas or oxygenated fluid through the rectum provided vital care to two mammalian species with respiratory distress.
Scientists also noted that some aquatic organisms have developed unique intestinal respiration mechanisms through organs other than the lungs or gills. This is necessary to survive in low oxygen conditions. For example, sea cucumbers, freshwater loach fish, and some freshwater catfish use the intestines for respiration. However, the question of whether mammals have such capabilities has still remained open.
“Artificial respiratory support plays a vital role in the treatment of respiratory failure caused by severe illnesses such as pneumonia or acute respiratory distress syndrome. Although side effects and safety must be carefully assessed, this approach may offer a new approach to support critically ill patients with respiratory failure.”
scientists from Tokyo Medical University
In a new study, scientists have cited evidence of intestinal respiration in rats, mice and pigs. To do this, they designed a ventilation system to introduce pure oxygen through the rectum of the mice. They showed that without this system, no mouse could survive for 11 minutes in extremely low oxygen conditions. When using intestinal gas ventilation, more oxygen reached the hearts of the animals, and 75% of the mice survived 50 minutes of extremely difficult conditions with low oxygen content.
Since the ventilation system requires abrasive action on the intestinal musculature, it is unlikely to be feasible in a clinical setting, especially in critically ill patients, so the researchers also developed a fluid-based alternative using oxygenated chemicals. These chemicals have already been clinically proven to be biocompatible and safe for humans.
The intestinal fluid ventilation system has provided therapeutic benefits for rodents and pigs exposed to non-lethal, low oxygen conditions. Mice that received intestinal ventilation were able to walk further in the chamber with 10% oxygen. They also received more oxygen to their hearts.