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Soft Palate Muscle Responses To Negative Upper Airway Pressure

T. C. Amis, N. O’Neill, J. R. Wheatley, T. van der Touw, E. di Somma, A. Brancatisano

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The afferent pathways and upper airway receptor locations involved in negative upper airway pressure (NUAP) augmentation of soft palate muscle activity have not been defined. We studied the electromyographic (EMG) response to NUAP for the palatinus, tensor veli palatini, and levator veli palatini muscles in 11 adult, supine, tracheostomized, anesthetized dogs. NUAP was applied to the nasal or laryngeal end of the isolated upper airway in six dogs and to four to six serial upper airway sites from the nasal cavity to the subglottis in five dogs. When NUAP was applied at the larynx, peak inspiratory EMG activity for the palatinus and tensor increased significantly ( P< 0.05) and plateaued at a NUAP of −10 cmH2O. Laryngeal NUAP failed to increase levator activity consistently. Nasal NUAP did not increase EMG activity for any muscle. Consistent NUAP reflex recruitment of soft palate muscle activity only occurred when the larynx was exposed to the stimulus and, furthermore, was abolished by bilateral section of the internal branches of the superior laryngeal nerves. We conclude that soft palate muscle activity may be selectively modulated by afferent activity originating in the laryngeal and hypopharyngeal airway.