Voituron N - Zanella S - Menuet C - Lajard AM - Dutschmann M - Hilaire G


Respiratory physiology & neurobiology


Rett syndrome is a neurodevelopmental disease accompanied by complex, disabling symptoms, including breathing symptoms. Because Rett syndrome is caused by mutations in the transcriptional repressor methyl-CpG-binding protein 2 (MeCP2), Mecp2-deficient mice have been generated as experimental model. Males of Mecp2-deficient mice (Mecp2(-/y)) breathe normally at birth but show abnormal respiratory responses to hypoxia and hypercapnia from postnatal day 25 (P25). After P30, Mecp2(-/y) mice develop breathing symptoms reminiscent of Rett syndrome, aggravating until premature death at around P60. Using plethysmography, we analyzed the sighs and the post-sigh breathing pattern of unrestrained wild type male mice (WT) and Mecp2(-/y) mice from P15 to P60. Sighs are spontaneous large inspirations known to prevent lung atelectasis and to improve alveolar oxygenation. However, Mecp2(-/y) mice show early abnormalities of post-sigh breathing, with long-lasting post-sigh apnoeas, reduced tidal volume when eupnoea resumes and lack of post-sigh bradypnoea which develop from P15, aggravate with age and possibly contribute to breathing symptoms to come.

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