No Joke: Pigs and Rodents Can Breathe Through Their Butts

Happy Pig on Floor

Rodents and pigs can use their intestines for respiration.

Rodents and pigs share with certain aquatic organisms the ability to use their intestines for respiration, finds a study publishing May 14th in the journal Med. The researchers demonstrated that the delivery of oxygen gas or oxygenated liquid through the rectum provided vital rescue to two mammalian models of respiratory failure.

“Artificial respiratory support plays a vital role in the clinical management of respiratory failure due to severe illnesses such as pneumonia or acute respiratory distress syndrome,” says senior study author Takanori Takebe (@TakebeLab) of the Tokyo Medical and Dental University and the Cincinnati Children’s Hospital Medical Center. “Although the side effects and safety need to be thoroughly evaluated in humans, our approach may offer a new paradigm to support critically ill patients with respiratory failure.”

Several aquatic organisms have evolved unique intestinal breathing mechanisms to survive under low-oxygen conditions using organs other than lungs or gills. For example, sea cucumbers, freshwater fish called loaches, and certain freshwater catfish use their intestines for respiration. But it has been heavily debated whether mammals have similar capabilities.

In the new study, Takebe and his collaborators provide evidence for intestinal breathing in rats, mice, and pigs. First, they designed an intestinal gas ventilation system to administer pure oxygen through the rectum of mice. They showed that without the system, no mice survived 11 minutes of extremely low-oxygen conditions. With intestinal gas ventilation, more oxygen reached the heart, and 75% of mice survived 50 minutes of normally lethal low-oxygen conditions.

Because the intestinal gas ventilation system requires abrasion of the intestinal muscosa, it is unlikely to be clinically feasible, especially in severely ill patients–so the researchers also developed a liquid-based alternative using oxygenated perfluorochemicals. These chemicals have already been shown clinically to be biocompatible and safe in humans.

The intestinal liquid ventilation system provided therapeutic benefits to rodents and pigs exposed to non-lethal low-oxygen conditions. Mice receiving intestinal ventilation could walk farther in a 10% oxygen chamber, and more oxygen reached their heart, compared to mice that did not receive intestinal ventilation. Similar results were evident in pigs. Intestinal liquid ventilation reversed skin pallor and coldness and increased their levels of oxygen, without producing obvious side effects. Taken together, the results show that this strategy is effective in providing oxygen that reaches circulation and alleviates respiratory failure symptoms in two mammalian model systems.

With support from the Japan Agency for Medical Research and Development to combat the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic, the researchers plan to expand their preclinical studies and pursue regulatory steps to accelerate the path to clinical translation.

“The recent SARS-CoV-2 pandemic is overwhelming the clinical need for ventilators and artificial lungs, resulting in a critical shortage of available devices, and endangering patients’ lives worldwide,” Takebe says. “The level of arterial oxygenation provided by our ventilation system, if scaled for human application, is likely sufficient to treat patients with severe respiratory failure, potentially providing life-saving oxygenation.”

Reference: “Mammalian enteral ventilation ameliorates respiratory failure” by Ryo Okabe, Toyofumi F. Chen-Yoshikawa, Yosuke Yoneyama, Yuhei Yokoyama, Satona Tanaka, Akihiko Yoshizawa, Wendy L. Thompson, Gokul Kannan, Eiji Kobayashi, Hiroshi Date and Takanori Takebe, 14 May 2021, Med.
DOI: 10.1016/j.medj.2021.04.004

This work was supported by Research Program on Emerging and Re-emerging Infectious Diseases, Research Projects on COVID-19, from the Japan Agency for Medical Research and Development, and AMED The Translational Research program and AMED Program for technological innovation of regenerative medicine.

17 Comments on "No Joke: Pigs and Rodents Can Breathe Through Their Butts"

  1. Daniel McGee, MD | May 14, 2021 at 10:47 pm | Reply

    These animals did not “breathe through their butts.” They were (VERY) temporarily oxygenated through their butts. If they can keep an animal alive with no brain damage for two weeks without a bowel perforation, ischemic bowel or septic shock, then I will be imopressed.

  2. Raymond J Mercado Jr | May 15, 2021 at 12:09 am | Reply

    I can only exhale from my butt.

  3. Roberta Gottesman | May 15, 2021 at 12:11 am | Reply

    Isn’t this possible treatment route negated by the study referenced in your article about the covid-19 virus hiding in and damaging one’s intestines?

  4. machiel miller | May 15, 2021 at 3:12 am | Reply

    imagine what they did to poor animals to try this.

  5. I know some people who can do that! They talk out of their butts also!?!! Lol

  6. I blow raspberries out my butt

  7. Mouth to Mouth?, for a piggy in need of oxygen. With their mouths to big to
    make a good seal, then mouth to………!?!? I’m just saying.

  8. The way I see it, the rodents and pigs who were tortured and murdered had more of a right to live, free of terror and agony, than the humans who would theoretically be saved (at some undetermined future date of course). It takes a special kind of sociopath to do this kind of work…and they always seem to see themselves as saviors of the human race.

    I say let more people die. Its better for everyone else who lives here. If I was a Christian I’d take solace in the fact that these scientists will be getting anally raped – by rodent and pig like demons – for an eternity in Hell.

    I’m so glad I dropped out of college before I could become an obscure hero of academia who pulls the wings off of flies for a living. I could have been so useful in saving the world from its due fate!

  9. While I agree with the comment that this is not medically feasible, and that many animals were set to death because of it, the only real thing I learned today is a pigs ass is more talented and capable than 80% of humans. We’re almost to the point of requiring blinking lights in mass halls to remind others to breath. Mask or no mask, lets hope the end is quick!

    That is all.

  10. Hmmm… I see a whole new market for vaping here.

  11. David lemmon | May 16, 2021 at 2:43 am | Reply

    Should add politicians to the list

  12. Now I know why there breath always smelled like crap, just saying…

  13. Sick experiments. What are rights of lab animals? We know the rights of the human animals devising and running these experiments are protected by laws and courts. But the animals they experiment on? They have no rights in this Twilight Zone world.

  14. Natural Herbs are better for People. They will help your Pets live along happy helthy life. Those Chinese herbs are better for the both of you. I had shingles the Chinese herbs cure them I have not seen them since.

  15. I would have had a significantly more positive reaction to this article, had the experiments been conducted on say, a serial killer or pedophile. Just a thought

  16. Can the device you create to administer the gas or liquid PLEASE be called the

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