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Open Access Research article

Development of electrocardiogram intervals during growth of FVB/N neonate mice

Christopher R Heier12, Thomas G Hampton3, Deli Wang4 and Christine J DiDonato12*

Author Affiliations

1 Human Molecular Genetics Program, Children's Memorial Research Center, 2300 Children's Plaza, PO Box 211, Chicago, IL 60614, USA

2 Department of Pediatrics, Feinberg School of Medicine, Northwestern University, Chicago, IL, 60611, USA

3 Mouse Specifics, Inc., Boston, MA, 02169, USA

4 Biostatistics Research Core, Children's Memorial Research Center, Feinberg School of Medicine, Northwestern University, Chicago, IL, 60611, USA

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BMC Physiology 2010, 10:16  doi:10.1186/1472-6793-10-16

Published: 24 August 2010

Abstract

Background

Electrocardiography remains the best diagnostic tool and therapeutic biomarker for a spectrum of pediatric diseases involving cardiac or autonomic nervous system defects. As genetic links to these disorders are established and transgenic mouse models produced in efforts to understand and treat them, there is a surprising lack of information on electrocardiograms (ECGs) and ECG abnormalities in neonate mice. This is likely due to the trauma and anaesthesia required of many legacy approaches to ECG recording in mice, exacerbated by the fragility of many mutant neonates. Here, we use a non-invasive system to characterize development of the heart rate and electrocardiogram throughout the growth of conscious neonate FVB/N mice.

Results

We examine ECG waveforms as early as two days after birth. At this point males and females demonstrate comparable heart rates that are 50% lower than adult mice. Neonatal mice exhibit very low heart rate variability. Within 12 days of birth PR, QRS and QTc interval durations are near adult values while heart rate continues to increase until weaning. Upon weaning FVB/N females quickly develop slower heart rates than males, though PR intervals are comparable between sexes until a later age. This suggests separate developmental events may contribute to these gender differences in electrocardiography.

Conclusions

We provide insight with a new level of detail to the natural course of heart rate establishment in neonate mice. ECG can now be conveniently and repeatedly used in neonatal mice. This should serve to be of broad utility, facilitating further investigations into development of a diverse group of diseases and therapeutics in preclinical mouse studies.