Thyroarytenoid Muscle Electrical Activity During Spontaneous Apneas in Preterm Lambs

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Laryngeal dynamics plays a major role during perinatal life, a period of respiratory control immaturity. Continuous electromyographic (EMG) activity of a laryngeal adductor muscle (thyroarytenoid [TA] muscle), was recently observed throughout provoked central apneas, either isolated or during induced periodic breathing, in full-term lambs. The aim of the present study was to test if continuous TA EMG activity was also present during spontaneous apneas in nonsedated preterm lambs. We studied 7 premature lambs (term 131 ± 1 d of postconceptional age). Premature birth was induced after acceleration of fetal lung maturation. Electrodes for diaphragm, inferior pharyngeal constrictor (IPC), and TA electromyograms, electrocardiogram, electroencephalogram, eye movement, and airflow recordings were implanted. Radiotelemetry recordings were repeated from 135 to 149 ± 8 d of postconceptional age. A total of 2,088 apneas (2,020 central and 68 mixed) ≥ 3 s were recorded in the lambs, including 57 epochs of periodic breathing. Continuous TA EMG activity was present throughout 88.4% of all apneas and 98.4% of apneas during periodic breathing, regardless of the sleep stage. These results suggest that active glottic closure is frequent during spontaneous central apneas in this model of prematurity. This unique model will allow us to study controlling mechanisms and consequences of glottic closure during neonatal apneas.

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