Journal of Applied Physiology

Interactions of increased pO2 and pCO2 effects in producing convulsions and death in mice

John R. Marshall, Christian J. Lambertsen


In 379 mice subjected to from 1 to 11 atm. of pO2 and 0 to 304 mm Hg of pCO2 for 90 minutes, oxygen was convulsigenic at pressures greater than 3 atm. and lethal at greater than 4 atm. Carbon dioxide in 1 atm. of O2 was not convulsigenic but was lethal at very high tensions. In the presence of O2 at high pressure (OHP) small elevations of CO2 tension shortened the preconvulsive latent period, whereas CO2 tensions greater than 120 mm Hg inhibited convulsions. Survival time in OHP was shortened by the addition of CO2. An interaction between OHP and CO2 effects is suggested by both the preconvulsive latent period and survival time data. The effects of CO2 on OHP and electroshock convulsions are compared and possible reasons for differences are discussed in light of the previously demonstrated general cortical depression and inhibition of convulsions by CO2. The potentiation of OHP convulsions by low CO2 tensions is probably due to effects on brain blood flow. Although death can occur without convulsions there is a tendency for animals susceptible to convulsions to be also susceptible to the lethal properties of OHP with CO2.

Submitted on July 28, 1960