A team of Japanese scientists has shown it is possible for mammals to absorb oxygen via the anus.
Key Details Enteral ventilation
- For higher order animals, respiration involves breathing in oxygen and excreting carbon dioxide using lungs or gills. Some species however have evolved alternate ventilatory mechanisms. Loaches, catfish, sea cucumbers and orb-weaving spiders can also use their hindgut to oxygenate to survive in emergencies.
- This is called enteral ventilation via anus, or EVA.
- The rectum has a mesh of fine blood vessels just beneath the surface of its lining, which means that drugs administered through the anus are readily absorbed into the bloodstream,.
- This made the team wonder whether oxygen could be delivered into the bloodstream in the same way.
- Delivery of oxygen both as gas and in liquid form increased oxygenation, normalised the animals’ behavior and prolonged their survival.
- The team also confirmed the improvement in oxygenation at the cellular level, by a technique called immunochemical staining.
- They added that the small amount of liquid that was absorbed along with the oxygen caused no harm and did not disrupt the gut bacteria, indicating the method was safe.
- The technique could play a role when there is a shortage of ventilators, as seen in the current coronavirus pandemic.
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