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Effect Of Artificial Rearing On The Contractile Properties And Myosin Heavy Chain Isoforms Of Developing Rat Tongue Musculature.

Stacy A Kinirons, M. Shall, J. McClung, S. Goldberg
Published 2003 · Psychology, Medicine

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This study's purpose was to examine the influence of an altered activity level, via artificial rearing, on the contractile properties, myosin heavy chain phenotypes (MHC), and muscle fiber sizes of the developing rat tongue retractor musculature. Artificially reared rat pups were fed through a gastric cannula, eliminating nutritive suckling from postnatal day 4 to postnatal day 14. Rat pups were observed immediately following artificial rearing (postnatal day 14) and after a 1-mo resumption of function (postnatal day 42). The contractile characteristics of the tongue retractor musculature were measured in response to stimulation of the hypoglossal nerve. At postnatal day 14, artificially reared rat pups demonstrated significantly longer twitch half-decay times, lower fusion frequencies, and a marked decrease in fatigue resistance. These contractile speed and fatigue characteristics were fully recovered following a 1-mo resumption of function. MHC phenotypes of the styloglossus muscle (a tongue retractor) were determined by gel electrophoresis. At postnatal day 14, artificial rearing had not altered the MHC phenotype or muscle fiber sizes of the styloglossus muscle. However, following a 1-mo resumption of function artificially reared rat pups demonstrated a small but significant increase in MHCIIa expression and decrease in MHCIIb expression compared with dam-reared rats. These results support artificial rearing as a useful model for altering the activity level of the tongue and suggest that normal suckling behavior is necessary for the normal postnatal development of the tongue retractor musculature. This may also be the case for premature infants necessarily fed artificially.
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