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

Effects of aging on genioglossus motor units in humans

  • Author(s): Saboisky, JP
  • Stashuk, DW
  • Hamilton-Wright, A
  • Trinder, J
  • Nandedkar, S
  • Malhotra, A
  • et al.

The genioglossus is a major upper airway dilator muscle thought to be important in obstructive sleep apnea pathogenesis. Aging is a risk factor for obstructive sleep apnea although the mechanisms are unclear and the effects of aging on motor unit remodeled in the genioglossus remains unknown. To assess possible changes associated with aging we compared quantitative parameters related to motor unit potential morphology derived from EMG signals in a sample of older (n = 11; >55 years) versus younger (n = 29; <55 years) adults. All data were recorded during quiet breathing with the subjects awake. Diagnostic sleep studies (Apnea Hypopnea Index) confirmed the presence or absence of obstructive sleep apnea. Genioglossus EMG signals were analyzed offline by automated software (DQEMG), which estimated a MUP template from each extracted motor unit potential train (MUPT) for both the selective concentric needle and concentric needle macro (CNMACRO) recorded EMG signals. 2074 MUPTs from 40 subjects (mean±95% CI; older AHI 19.±69.9 events/hr versus younger AHI 30.1±6.1 events/hr) were extracted. MUPs detected in older adults were 32% longer in duration (14.7±0.5 ms versus 11.1±0.2 ms; P = 0.05), with similar amplitudes (395.2±25.1 μV versus 394.6613.7 μV). Amplitudes of CNMACRO MUPs detected in older adults were larger by 22% (62.7±6.5 μV versus 51.3±3.0 μV; P<0.05), with areas 24% larger (160.6±18.6 μ versus 130.0±7.4 μ; P<0.05) than those detected in younger adults. These results confirm that remodeled motor units are present in the genioglossus muscle of individuals above 55 years, which may have implications for OSA pathogenesis and aging related upper airway collapsibility.

Many UC-authored scholarly publications are freely available on this site because of the UC Academic Senate's Open Access Policy. Let us know how this access is important for you.

Main Content
Current View