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PEREIRA-JUNIOR, Pedro P. et al. Noninvasive method for electrocardiogram recording in conscious rats: feasibility for heart rate variability analysis. An. Acad. Bras. Ciênc. [online]. 2010, vol.82, n.2, pp.431-437. ISSN 0001-3765.

Heart rate variability (HRV) analysis consists in a well-established tool for the assessment of cardiac autonomic control, both in humans and in animal models. Conventional methods for HRV analysis in rats rely on conscious state electrocardiogram (ECG) recording based on prior invasive surgical procedures for electrodes/transmitters implants. The aim of the present study was to test a noninvasive and inexpensive method for ECG recording in conscious rats, assessing its feasibility for HRV analysis. A custom-made elastic cotton jacket was developed to fit the rat's mean thoracic circumference, with two pieces of platinum electrodes attached on its inner surface, allowing ECG to be recorded noninvasively in conscious, restrained rats (n=6). Time- and frequency-domain HRV analyses were conducted, under basal and autonomic blockade conditions. High-quality ECG signals were obtained, being feasible for HRV analysis. As expected, mean RR interval was significantly decreased in the presence of atropine (p <0.05) and increased in the presence of propranolol (p<0.001). Also, reinforcing the reliability of the method, low- and high-frequency HRV spectral powers were significantly decreased in the presence of propranolol (p <0.05) and atropine (p< 0.001), respectively. In summary, the present work describes a novel, inexpensive and noninvasive method for surface ECG recording in conscious rats.

Keywords : electrocardiography; heart rate variability; methodology; noninvasive; rat.

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