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01.12.2016 | Research | Ausgabe 1/2016 Open Access

Respiratory Research 1/2016

Disharmony between wake- and respiration-promoting activities: effects of modafinil on ventilatory control in rodents

Respiratory Research > Ausgabe 1/2016
Jiro Terada, Isato Fukushi, Kotaro Takeda, Yohei Hasebe, Mieczyslaw Pokorski, Koichiro Tatsumi, Yasumasa Okada
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Electronic supplementary material

The online version of this article (doi:10.​1186/​s12931-016-0466-9) contains supplementary material, which is available to authorized users.



Modafinil is a wake-promoting drug and has been widely used for daytime sleepiness in patients with narcolepsy and other sleep disorders. A recent case series reported that daily oral modafinil alleviated hypercapnic respiratory failure in patients with COPD. However, the precise action of modafinil on respiration such as hypercapnic and/or hypoxic ventilatory responses remains unclear. The aim of this study is to clarify the effect of modafinil on the ventilatory control.


We investigated the hypothesis that modafinil enhances resting ventilation as well as the stimulatory ventilatory responses to hypercapnia and hypoxia. We addressed the issue by examining minute ventilation, respiratory rate and volume components using plethysmography, combined with a concurrent EEG monitoring of the level of wakefulness before and after administration of modafinil in two doses of 100 mg/kg and 200 mg/kg in unanesthetized mice. In addition, we monitored the effect of the lower dose of modafinil on mice locomotor activity in a freely moving condition by video-recording.


Wakefulness, locomotor activity and variability of the breathing pattern in tidal volume were promoted by both doses of modafinil. Neither dose of modafinil increased the absolute values of resting ventilation or promoted the ventilatory responses to hypercapnia and hypoxia. Rather, higher dose of modafinil slightly suppressed respiratory rate in room air condition.


Modafinil is conducive to the state of wakefulness but does not augment resting ventilation or the hyperventilatory responses to chemical stimuli in unanesthetized rodents.
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