Mouse models have become an indispensable tool in translational research of human airway disease and have provided much of our understanding of the pathogenesis of airway disease such as asthma. In these models the ability to assess pulmonary function and particularly airway responsiveness is critically important. Existing methods for testing pulmonary function in mice in vivo include noninvasive and invasive technologies. Noninvasive head-out body plethysmography is a well-established and widely accepted technique which has been proven as a reliable method to measure lung function on repeated occasions in intact, conscious mice. We have performed several validation studies in allergic mice to compare the parameter midexpiratory flow (EF) as a noninvasive marker of airflow limitation with invasively measured gold standard parameters of lung mechanics. The results of these studies showed a good agreement of EF with the invasive assessment of lung resistance and dynamic compliance with a somewhat lower sensitivity of EF. The measurement of EF together with basic respiratory parameters is particularly appropriate for simple and repeatable screening of pulmonary function in large numbers of mice or if noninvasive measurement without use of anesthesia is required. Beyond known applications, head-out body plethysmography also provides a much-needed high-throughput screening tool to gain insights into the impact and kinetics of respiratory infections such as SARS-COV-2 on lung physiology in laboratory mice.
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