Regional associations between inspiratory tongue dilatory movement and genioglossus activity during wakefulness in people with obstructive sleep apnoea

Lauriane Jugé, Angela Liao, Jade Yeung, Fiona L. Knapman, Christopher Bull, Peter G.R. Burke, Elizabeth C. Brown, Simon C. Gandevia, Danny J. Eckert, Jane E. Butler, Lynne E. Bilston

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Abstract

Abstract: Inspiratory tongue dilatory movement is believed to be mediated via changes in neural drive to genioglossus. However, this has not been studied during quiet breathing in humans. Therefore, this study investigated this relationship and its potential role in obstructive sleep apnoea (OSA). During awake supine quiet nasal breathing, inspiratory tongue dilatory movement, quantified with tagged magnetic resonance imaging, and inspiratory phasic genioglossus EMG normalised to maximum EMG were measured in nine controls [apnoea–hypopnea index (AHI) ≤5 events/h] and 37 people with untreated OSA (AHI >5 events/h). Measurements were obtained for 156 neuromuscular compartments (85%). Analysis was adjusted for nadir epiglottic pressure during inspiration. Only for 106 compartments (68%) was a larger anterior (dilatory) movement associated with a higher phasic EMG [mixed linear regression, beta = 0.089, 95% CI [0.000, 0.178], t(99) = 1.995, P = 0.049, hereafter EMG↗/mvt↗]. For the remaining 50 (32%) compartments, a larger dilatory movement was associated with a lower phasic EMG [mixed linear regression, beta = −0.123, 95% CI [−0.224, −0.022], t(43) = −2.458, P = 0.018, hereafter EMG↘/mvt↗]. OSA participants had a higher odds of having at least one decoupled EMG↘/mvt↗ compartment (binary logistic regression, odds ratio [95% CI]: 7.53 [1.19, 47.47] (P = 0.032). Dilatory tongue movement was minimal (>1 mm) in nearly all participants with only EMG↗/mvt↗ compartments (86%, 18/21). These results demonstrate that upper airway dilatory mechanics cannot be predicted from genioglossus EMG, particularly in people with OSA. Tongue movement associated with minimal genioglossus activity suggests co-activation of other airway dilator muscles. (Figure presented.). Key points: Inspiratory tongue movement is thought to be mediated through changes in genioglossus activity. However, it is unknown if this relationship is altered by obstructive sleep apnoea (OSA). During awake supine quiet nasal breathing, inspiratory tongue movement, quantified with tagged magnetic resonance imaging (MRI), and inspiratory phasic genioglossus EMG normalised to maximum EMG were measured in four tongue compartments of people with and without OSA. Larger tongue anterior (dilatory) movement was associated with higher phasic genioglossus EMG for 68% of compartments. OSA participants had an ∼7-times higher odds of having at least one compartment for which a larger anterior tongue movement was not associated with a higher phasic EMG than controls. Therefore, higher genioglossus phasic EMG does not consistently translate into tongue dilatory movement, particularly in people with OSA. Large dilatory tongue movements can occur despite minimal genioglossus inspiratory activity, suggesting co-activation of other pharyngeal muscles.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)5795-5811
Number of pages17
JournalJournal of Physiology
Volume601
Issue number24
Early online date20 Nov 2023
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 15 Dec 2023

Keywords

  • intramuscular EMG
  • magnetic resonance imaging
  • respiratory physiology
  • sleep disordered breathing
  • upper airway

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