Skip to main content
Open Access Publications from the University of California

UC San Diego

UC San Diego Previously Published Works bannerUC San Diego

Influence of pharyngeal muscle activity on inspiratory negative effort dependence in the human upper airway.


The upper airway is often modeled as a Starling resistor, which predicts that flow is independent of inspiratory effort during flow limitation. However, while some obstructive sleep apnea (OSA) patients exhibit flat, Starling resistor-like flow limitation, others demonstrate considerable negative effort dependence (NED), defined as the percent reduction in flow from peak to mid-inspiration. We hypothesized that the variability in NED could be due to differences in phasic pharyngeal muscle activation between individuals. Therefore, we induced topical pharyngeal anesthesia to reduce phasic pharyngeal muscle activation to see if it increased NED. Twelve subjects aged 50±10 years with a BMI of 35±6 kg/m(2) and severe OSA (apnea-hypopnea index=52±28 events/h) were studied. NED and phasic genioglossus muscle activity (EMG(GG)) of flow limited breaths were determined before and after pharyngeal anesthesia with lidocaine. Pharyngeal anesthesia led to a 33% reduction in EMG(GG) activity (p<0.001), but NED worsened only by 3.6±5.8% (p=0.056). In conclusion, phasic EMG(GG) had little effect on NED. This finding suggests that individual differences in phasic EMG(GG) activation do not likely explain the variability in NED found among OSA patients.

Many UC-authored scholarly publications are freely available on this site because of the UC's open access policies. Let us know how this access is important for you.

Main Content
For improved accessibility of PDF content, download the file to your device.
Current View