Alfaxalone-xylazine anesthesia in laboratory mice (Mus musculus)

Rebecca L. Erickson, Caroline E. Blevins, Cecilia De Souza Dyer, James O. Marx*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

28 Scopus citations


Since its recent reformulation, alfaxalone has gained popularity as an injectable veterinary anesthetic, including promising studies demonstrating the use of alfaxalone-xylazine for anesthesia in mice. Here we sought to expand these studies by testing additional dose ranges, elaborating on physiologic monitoring, testing sex- and strain-associated differences, and evaluating efficacy during actual surgical conditions. C57BL/6J mice showed significant sex-associated differences in anesthetic sensitivity, with males requiring higher doses of alfaxalone (80-120 mg/kg IP alfaxalone with 10 mg/kg IP xylazine) than females (40-80 mg/kg IP alfaxalone with 10 mg/kg IP xylazine) to achieve a surgical plane of anesthesia. In addition, female outbred CD1 mice were less sensitive to alfaxalone than female inbred C57BL/6J mice. When used during actual surgery, alfaxalone- xylazine administered intraperitoneally provided adequate anesthesia for a model of orthopedic surgery, whereas the same anesthetic regimen during laparotomy resulted in unacceptably high mortality; survival during laparotomy increased when drugs were administered subcutaneously. These results indicate that alfaxalone-xylazine may be a viable option for injectable surgical anesthesia in mice, although strain- and sex-associated differences and alternative routes of administration should be considered when optimizing the anesthetic regimen for specific experimental conditions.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)30-39
Number of pages10
JournalJournal of the American Association for Laboratory Animal Science
Issue number1
StatePublished - 2019


  • HR
  • Heart rate
  • LORR
  • LPWR
  • Loss of pedal withdrawal reflex
  • Loss of righting reflex
  • PWR
  • Pedal withdrawal reflex
  • RR
  • Respiratory rate

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Animal Science and Zoology


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