Timed pressure control hardware and software for delivery of air mediated distensions in animal models

Apr 28, 2022

Understanding the sensory function of visceral structures such as the bladder, intestine, and stomach is important given that more than 1 in 5 people experience pain alongside their normal physiological functions. For this reason, neuroscientists study the perception of these structures using hollow organ distention in which graded distensions provide increasing visceral pain that responds to analgesics and causes an increase in abdominal electromyography. Hollow organ distensions benefit greatly from electronic control systems that improve consistency, accuracy, and temporal alignment with other stimuli. Unfortunately, the control systems used throughout the literature are custom built, and do not provide designs files or build descriptions for other labs to use. Therefore, Trishna Patel and colleagues have developed an open source timed pressure control system with hardware and software for the delivery of air mediated distensions in animal models.

The design uses an Arduino microcontroller to control a relay module that operates a solenoid valve which all sit in a 3D printed housing. The solenoid works in conjunction with a flowmeter regulator to allow for controlled flow of pressurized air into the target. The timing of distensions is controlled via either the custom Python-based UI, or by triggered TTL pulse. The project provides detailed step-by-step build instructions and operating instructions to get going quickly and can be built for ~$200. Therefore, this design is an affordable, adaptable, and precise way to improve hollow organ distension experiments.


This research tool was created by your colleagues. Please acknowledge the Principal Investigator, cite the article in which the tool was described, and include an RRID in the Materials and Methods of your future publications.  RRID:SCR_022363

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Read more about the project in the HardwareX paper!

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