The present experiments investigated the effects of 1 and 12 atmospheres absolute (ATA) helium-oxygen on potentially lethal doses of ethanol given alone or in combination with pentobarbital. Drug-naive, male C57BL/6J mice were injected IP with 5.4-6.5 g/kg ethanol, 4.5-6.9 g/kg ethanol plus 20 mg/kg pentobarbital, or 50-110 mg/kg pentobarbital plus 2.5 g/kg ethanol. Following injection, the mice were placed into chambers and exposed to environments of 1 ATA air, 1 ATA helium-oxygen, or 12 ATA helium-oxygen. Exposure to 1 or 12 ATA helium-oxygen significantly reduced the lethal effect (percent mortality at given doses and LD50) of ethanol given alone or with 20 mg/kg pentobarbital when compared to animals exposed to 1 ATA air. The pattern and degree of reduction in lethality for the 1 and 12 ATA helium-oxygen treatments were similar, suggesting that the antagonism resulted from increased helium or decreased nitrogen and not from increased atmospheric pressure. Exposure to these environments did not reduce lethality in mice given 2.5 g/kg ethanol in combination with relatively high doses (50-110 mg/kg) of pentobarbital. These findings suggest that helium-oxygen breathing mixtures may be useful in the treatment of some overdose patients.
- Ethanol antagonists
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