The genioglossus is a major upper airway dilator muscle thought to be important in obstructive sleep apnea pathogenesis. Aging is a risk factor for obstructive sleep apnea although the mechanisms are unclear and the effects of aging on motor unit remodeled in the genioglossus remains unknown. To assess possible changes associated with aging we compared quantitative parameters related to motor unit potential morphology derived from EMG signals in a sample of older (n?=?11; >55 years) versus younger (n?=?29; <55 years) adults. All data were recorded during quiet breathing with the subjects awake. Diagnostic sleep studies (Apnea Hypopnea Index) confirmed the presence or absence of obstructive sleep apnea. Genioglossus EMG signals were analyzed offline by automated software (DQEMG), which estimated a MUP template from each extracted motor unit potential train (MUPT) for both the selective concentric needle and concentric needle macro (CNMACRO) recorded EMG signals. 2074 MUPTs from 40 subjects (mean±95% CI; older AHI 19.6±9.9 events/hr versus younger AHI 30.1±6.1 events/hr) were extracted. MUPs detected in older adults were 32% longer in duration (14.7±0.5 ms versus 11.1±0.2 ms; P ?=? 0.05), with similar amplitudes (395.2±25.1 µV versus 394.6±13.7 µV). Amplitudes of CNMACRO MUPs detected in older adults were larger by 22% (62.7±6.5 µV versus 51.3±3.0 µV; P<0.05), with areas 24% larger (160.6±18.6 µV.ms versus 130.0±7.4 µV.ms; P<0.05) than those detected in younger adults. These results confirm that remodeled motor units are present in the genioglossus muscle of individuals above 55 years, which may have implications for OSA pathogenesis and aging related upper airway collapsibility.
Rapid eye movement (REM)-induced hypotonia of the major upper airway dilating muscle (genioglossus) potentially contributes to the worsening of obstructive sleep apnea that occurs during this stage. No prior human single motor unit (SMU) study of genioglossus has examined this possibility to our knowledge. We hypothesized that genioglossus SMUs would reduce their activity during stable breathing in both tonic and phasic REM compared to stage N2 sleep. Further, we hypothesized that hypopneas occurring in REM would be associated with coincident reductions in genioglossus SMU activity.
The severity of obstructive sleep apnea is diminished (sometimes markedly) during slow wave sleep (SWS). We sought to understand why SWS stabilizes the upper airway. Increased single motor unit (SMU) activity of the major upper airway dilating muscle (genioglossus) should improve upper airway stability. Therefore, we hypothesized that genioglossus SMUs would increase their activity during SWS in comparison with Stage N2 sleep.
Numerous studies have demonstrated upper-airway neuromuscular abnormalities during wakefulness in snorers and obstructive sleep apnea (OSA) patients. However, the functional role of sensorimotor impairment in OSA pathogenesis/disease progression and its potential effects on protective upper-airway reflexes, measures of respiratory sensory processing, and force characteristics remain unclear. This study aimed to gain physiological insight into the potential role of sensorimotor impairment in OSA pathogenesis/disease progression by comparing sensory processing properties (respiratory-related evoked potentials; RREP), functionally important protective reflexes (genioglossus and tensor palatini) across a range of negative pressures (brief pulses and entrained iron lung ventilation), and tongue force and time to task failure characteristics between 12 untreated OSA patients and 13 controls. We hypothesized that abnormalities in these measures would be present in OSA patients. Upper-airway reflexes (e.g., genioglossus onset latency, 20 ± 1 vs. 19 ± 2 ms, P = 0.82), early RREP components (e.g., P1 latency 25 ± 2 vs. 25 ± 1 ms, P = 0.78), and the slope of epiglottic pressure vs. genioglossus activity during iron lung ventilation (-0.68 ± 1.0 vs. -0.80 ± 2.0 cmH(2)O/%max, P = 0.59) were not different between patients and controls. Maximal tongue protrusion force was greater in OSA patients vs. controls (35 ± 2 vs. 27 ± 2 N, P < 0.01), but task failure occurred more rapidly (149 ± 24 vs. 254 ± 23 s, P < 0.01). Upper-airway protective reflexes across a range of negative pressures as measured by electromyography and the early P1 component of the RREP are preserved in OSA patients during wakefulness. Consistent with an adaptive training effect, tongue protrusion force is increased, not decreased, in untreated OSA patients. However, OSA patients may be vulnerable to fatigue of upper-airway dilator muscles, which could contribute to disease progression.
single motor unit recordings of the genioglossus (GG) muscle indicate that GG motor units have a variety of discharge patterns, including units that have higher discharge rates during inspiration (inspiratory phasic and inspiratory tonic), or expiration (expiratory phasic and expiratory tonic), or do not modify their rate with respiration (tonic). Previous studies have shown that an increase in GG muscle activity is a consequence of increased activity in inspiratory units. However, there are differences between studies as to whether this increase is primarily due to recruitment of new motor units (motor unit recruitment) or to increased discharge rate of already active units (rate coding). Sleep-wake state studies in humans have suggested the former, while hypercapnia experiments in rats have suggested the latter. In this study, we investigated the effect of hypercapnia on GG motor unit activity in humans during wakefulness.
Single motor unit (SMU) analysis provides a means to examine the motor control of a muscle. SMUs in the genioglossus show considerable complexity, with several different firing patterns. Two of the primary stimuli that contribute to genioglossal activation are carbon dioxide (CO(2)) and negative pressure, which act through chemoreceptor and mechanoreceptor activation, respectively. We sought to determine how these stimuli affect the behavior of genioglossus SMUs. We quantified genioglossus SMU discharge activity during periods of quiet breathing, elevated CO(2) (facilitation), and continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP) administration (inhibition). CPAP was applied in 2-cmH(2)O increments until 10 cmH(2)O during hypercapnia. Five hundred ninety-one periods (each ? 3 breaths) of genioglossus SMU data were recorded using wire electrodes(n = 96 units) from 15 awake, supine subjects. Overall hypercapnic stimulation increased the discharge rate of genioglossus units (20.9 ± 1.0 vs. 22.7 ± 0.9 Hz). Inspiratory units were activated ? 13% earlier in the inspiratory cycle, and the units fired for a longer duration (80.6 ± 5.1 vs. 105.3 ± 4.2% inspiratory time; P < 0.05). Compared with baseline, an additional 32% of distinguishable SMUs within the selective electrode recording area were recruited with hypercapnia. CPAP led to progressive SMU inhibition; at ? 6 cmH(2)O, there were similar numbers of SMUs active compared with baseline, with peak frequencies of inspiratory units close to baseline, despite elevated CO(2) levels. At 10 cmH(2)O, the number of units was 36% less than baseline. Genioglossus inspiratory phasic SMUs respond to hypercapnic stimulation with changes in recruitment and rate coding. The SMUs respond to CPAP with derecruitment as a homogeneous population, and inspiratory phasic units show slower discharge rates. Understanding upper airway muscle recruitment/derecruitment may yield therapeutic targets for maintenance of pharyngeal patency.
On the basis of recent reports, the genioglossus (GG) negative-pressure reflex consists initially of excitation followed by a secondary state-dependent suppression phase. The mechanistic origin and functional role of GG suppression is unknown but has been hypothesized to arise from transient inhibition of respiratory active neurons as a protective reflex to prevent aspiration, as observed in other respiratory muscles (e.g., diaphragm) during airway occlusion. Unlike GG, tensor palatini (TP) is a tonic muscle with minimal respiratory phasic activation during relaxed breathing, although both muscles are important in preserving pharyngeal patency. This study aimed to compare GG vs. TP reflex responses to the same negative-pressure stimulus. We hypothesized that reflex suppression would be present in GG, but not TP. Intramuscular GG and TP EMGs were recorded in 12 awake, healthy subjects (6 female). Reflex responses were generated via 250-ms pulses of negative upper airway pressure (approximately -16 cmH2O mask pressure) delivered in early inspiration. GG and TP demonstrated reflex activation in response to negative pressure (peak latency 31+/-4 vs. 31+/-6 ms and peak amplitude 318+/-55 vs. 314+/-26% baseline, respectively). A secondary suppression phase was present in 8 of 12 subjects for GG (nadir latency 54+/-7 ms, nadir amplitude 64+/-6% baseline), but not in any subject for TP. These data provide further support for the presence of excitatory and inhibitory components of GG (phasic muscle) in response to brief upper airway negative-pressure pulses. Conversely, no reflex suppression below baseline was present in TP (tonic muscle) in response to the same stimuli. These differential responses support the hypothesis that GG reflex suppression may be mediated via inhibition of respiratory-related premotor input.
Single motor unit recordings of the human genioglossus muscle reveal motor units with a variety of discharge patterns. Integrated multiunit electromyographic recordings of genioglossus have demonstrated an abrupt increase in the muscles activity at arousal from sleep. The aim of the present study was to determine the effect of arousal from sleep on the activity of individual motor units as a function of their particular discharge pattern.
Obstructive sleep apnoea (OSA) is a disease of ever-increasing importance due to its association with multiple impairments and rising prevalence in an increasingly susceptible demographic. The syndrome is linked with loud snoring, disrupted sleep and observed apnoeas. Serious co-morbidities associated with OSA appear to be reversed by continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP) treatment; however, CPAP is variably tolerated leaving many patients untreated and emphasising the need for alternative treatments. Virtually all OSA patients have airways that are anatomically vulnerable to collapse, but numerous pathophysiological factors underlie when and how OSA is manifested. This review describes how the complexity of OSA requires multiple treatment approaches that are individually targeted. This approach may take the form of more specific diagnoses in terms of the mechanisms underlying OSA as well as rational pharmacological treatment directed toward such disparate ends as arousal threshold and ventilatory control/chemosensitivity, and mechanical treatment in the form of surgery and augmentation of lung volumes.
The causes of obstructive sleep apnea (OSA) are multifactorial. Neural injury affecting the upper airway muscles due to repetitive exposure to intermittent hypoxia and/or mechanical strain resulting from snoring and recurrent upper airway closure have been proposed to contribute to OSA disease progression. Multiple studies have demonstrated altered sensory and motor function in patients with OSA using a variety of neurophysiological and histological approaches. However, the extent to which the alterations contribute to impairments in upper airway muscle function, and thus OSA disease progression, remains uncertain. This brief review, primarily focused on data in humans, summarizes: (1) the evidence for upper airway sensorimotor injury in OSA and (2) current understanding of how these changes affect upper airway function and their potential to change OSA progression. Some unresolved questions including possible treatment targets are noted.
Upper airway muscles such as genioglossus (GG) and tensor palatini (TP) reduce activity at sleep onset. In GG reduced muscle activity is primarily due to inspiratory modulated motor units becoming silent, suggesting reduced respiratory pattern generator (RPG) output. However, unlike GG, TP shows minimal respiratory modulation and presumably has few inspiratory modulated motor units and minimal input from the RPG. Thus, we investigated the mechanism by which TP reduces activity at sleep onset.
A growing literature supports a role for sleep after training in long-term memory consolidation and enhancement. Consequently, interrupted sleep should result in cognitive deficits. Recent evidence from an animal study indeed showed that optimal memory consolidation during sleep requires a certain amount of uninterrupted sleep. Sleep continuity is disrupted in various medical disorders. We compared performance on a motor sequence learning task (MST) in relatively young subjects with obstructive sleep apnea (n?=?16; apnea-hypopnea index 17.1±2.6/h [SEM]) to a carefully matched control group (n?=?15, apnea-hypopnea index 3.7±0.4/h, p<0.001. Apart from AHI, oxygen nadir and arousal index, there were no significant differences between groups in total sleep time, sleep efficiency and sleep architecture as well as subjective measures of sleepiness based on standard questionnaires. In addition performance on the psychomotor vigilance task (reaction time and lapses), which is highly sensitive to sleep deprivation showed no differences as well as initial learning performance during the training phase. However there was a significant difference in the primary outcome of immediate overnight improvement on the MST between the two groups (controls?=?14.7±4%, patients?=?1.1±3.6%; P?=?0.023) as well as plateau performance (controls?=?24.0±5.3%, patients?=?10.1±2.0%; P?=?0.017) and this difference was predicted by the arousal index (p?=?0.02) rather than oxygen saturation (nadir and time below 90% saturation. Taken together, this outcome provides evidence that there is a clear minimum requirement of sleep continuity in humans to ensure optimal sleep dependent memory processes. It also provides important new information about the cognitive impact of obstructive sleep apnea and challenges its current definitions.
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