Single motor unit recordings in human geniohyoid reveal minimal respiratory activity during quiet breathing

Elizabeth C. Brown, Anna L. Hudson, Jane E. Butler, David K. McKenzie, Lynne E. Bilston, Simon C. Gandevia

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

12 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

Single motor unit recordings in human geniohyoid reveal minimal respiratory activity during quiet breathing. J Appl Physiol 110: 1054-1059, 2011. First published February 17, 2011; doi:10.1152/japplphysiol.00454.2010.-Maintenance of airway patency during breathing involves complex interactions between pharyngeal dilator muscles. The few previous studies of geniohyoid activity using multiunit electromyography (EMG) have suggested that geniohyoid shows predominantly inspiratory phasic activity. This study aimed to quantify geniohyoid respiration-related activity with single motor unit (SMU) EMG recordings. Six healthy subjects of normal body mass index were studied. Intramuscular EMG recordings of geniohyoid activity were made with a monopolar needle with subjects in supine and seated positions. The depth of the geniohyoid was identified by ultrasound, and the electrode position was confirmed with maneuvers to isolate activity in geniohyoid and genioglossus. Activity was recorded at 85 sites in the geniohyoid during quiet breathing (45 supine and 40 seated). When subjects were supine, 33 sites (73%) showed no activity during breathing and 10 (22%) showed tonic activity. In addition, one site showed a tonic SMU with increased expiratory discharge, and one site in another subject had one unit with expiratory phasic activity. When subjects were seated, 27 sites (68%) in the geniohyoid showed no activity, 12 sites (30%) showed tonic activity that was not respiration related, and one unit at one site showed phasic expiratory activity. The average peak discharge frequency of geniohyoid motor units was 16.2 ± 3.1 impulses/s during the "geniohyoid maneuver," which was the first part of a swallow. In contrast to previous findings, the geniohyoid shows some tonic activity but minimal respiration-related activity in healthy subjects in quiet breathing. The geniohyoid has little active role in airway stability under these conditions.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1054-1059
Number of pages6
JournalJournal of Applied Physiology
Volume110
Issue number4
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - Apr 2011
Externally publishedYes

Keywords

  • Genioglossus
  • Pharyngeal dilator muscles
  • Tonic discharge
  • Upper airway

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