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Pharyngeal Motor Control And The Pathogenesis Of Obstructive Sleep Apnea

A. Jordan, D. White
Published 2008 · Medicine

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The upper airway in patients with obstructive sleep apnea (OSA) is thought to collapse during sleep at least in part, because of a sleep related reduction in upper airway dilator muscle activity. Therefore, a comprehensive understanding of the neural regulation of these muscles is warranted. The dilator muscles can be classified in two broad categories; those that have respiratory related activity and those that fire constantly throughout the respiratory cycle. The motor control of these two groups likely differs with the former receiving input from respiratory neurons and negative pressure reflex circuits. The activity of both muscle groups is reduced shortly after sleep onset, indicating that both receive input from brainstem neurons involved in sleep regulation. In the apnea patient, this may lead to pharyngeal airway collapse. This review briefly describes the currently proposed sleep and respiratory neural pathways and how these circuits interact with the upper airway dilator muscle motorneurones, including recent evidence from animal studies.
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