Humans could breathe out of their buttholes like pigs, and trials will begin this year

You may want to consider this, in case of a medical emergency.
Deena Theresa
Research indicates that pigs can breathe through their buttholes.dusanpetkovic
  • Takanori Takebe explored different breathing options in case of a blocked airway or low-oxygen situation.
  • A former study found that pigs and mice can breathe through their buttholes.
  • Humans could, too. Trials begin soon.

Got a blocked nose? No worries. Soon, you'll have another option to breathe through.

Your butthole. You heard it right.

In studies exploring treatment for people with respiratory conditions, a team of researchers in Japan has revealed that pigs can absorb oxygen through the anus, according to VICE World News.

The scientists discovered that the animals could survive without breathing through their lungs when oxygen and oxygenated liquid are pumped through their buttholes into their intestines.

"It's so impressive because we never thought of breathing from the gut, but it’s possible," Takanori Takebe, an author of the study and a doctor at the Tokyo Medical and Dental University, told VICE World News.

Last year, Takebe and his colleagues from Nagoya University Graduate School and Kyodo University’s Department of Respiratory Surgery published their study focusing on mice and how rodents and pigs share with certain aquatic organisms the ability to use their intestines for respiration.

They will submit their research on pigs to a U.S. medical journal in August.

While that sounds cool and disturbing, research indicates that it could be possible with humans too, considering that pigs are closer to the latter in physiology and genetic makeup.

A surprisingly essential study

The scientists observed the unconventional breathing method by loaches, a freshwater fish that uses its intestines to breathe. They found that the structure of the loaches' gut tissues changed to allow for easier breathing in conditions where there isn't enough oxygen available at the tissue level.

Takebe tested mice to check if mammals would also breathe through their anus in oxygen-deprived conditions, according to the findings published in the journal Med last year.

"I’m always very skeptical about the results, but it turns out every time we do the tests, we can get reproducible datasets," said Takebe.

Takebe's study revealed that mice who received the treatment lived longer than the ones that didn't. The experiments showed that mammals could survive longer in low-oxygen situations when given oxygenated gas or liquid through their rectums.

However, it isn't an evolutionary adaptation for mammals like loaches and catfish.

Now, why is this study crucial?

It could provide options for treating patients who suffer respiratory failure.

Doctors opt for mechanical ventilation when a patient needs oxygen. In the process, a machine pushes air through the windpipe.

Another technique called extracorporeal membrane oxygenation, wherein blood is pumped out of the body and reoxygenated with a machine, is also attempted. However, it carries the risk of bleeding and blood clots.

That's when Takebe considered the unusual but life-saving option.

Animal models needn't be reliable

In his former experiment, his team also eliminated barriers that could prevent oxygen uptake in the gut. They scraped the mice's mucosa, the innermost layer of the gastrointestinal tract, and then injected the gaseous oxygen into the animals.

If anything, this helped the rodents survive even longer. These mice stopped gasping for air and showed zero signs of cardiac arrest.

The researchers also tried delivering oxygen in liquid form, as mucosal removal could be uncomfortable for patients.

They added oxygen to perfluorodecalin, a chemical that can dissolve large amounts of oxygen. Upon injecting liquid into the mice's rectums, oxygen levels improved. The same holds when tested on pigs and rats.

Caleb Kelly, a gastroenterology fellow at Yale University who’s not affiliated with the study, described the scientists’ newfound method as "promising."

However, Kelly added that animal models don't accurately depict what critically ill patients might experience during respiratory failure.

Takebe plans to start human clinical trials early this year to prove its real-life efficacy. After confirming the method's safety.

The scientist will recruit patients with respiratory conditions to put his findings to the test.

Well, it's always great to have options.

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