We evaluated genioglossus (GG) gross motoneuron morphology, electromyographic (EMG) activities, and respiratory patterning in rat pups allowed to develop without interference (unexposed) and pups born to dams subjected to osmotic minipump implantation in utero (saline-exposed). In experiment 1, 48 Sprague-Dawley rat pups (Charles-River Laboratories), ages postnatal day 7 (P7) through postnatal day 10 (P10), were drawn from two experimental groups, saline-exposed (n = 24) and unexposed (n = 24), and studied on P7, P8, P9, or P10. Pups in both groups were sedated (Inactin hydrate, 70 mg/kg), and fine-wire electrodes were inserted into the GG muscle of the tongue and intercostal muscles to record EMG activities during breathing in air and at three levels of normoxic hypercapnia [inspired CO2 fraction (FiCO2): 0.03, 0.06, and 0.09]. Using this approach, we assessed breathing frequency, heart rate, apnea type, respiratory event types, and respiratory stability. In experiment 2, 16 rat pups were drawn from the same experimental groups, saline-exposed (n = 9) and unexposed (n = 7), and used in motoneuron-labeling studies. In these pups a retrograde dye was injected into the GG muscle, and the brain stems were subsequently harvested and sliced. Labeled GG motoneurons were identified with microscopy, impaled, and filled with Lucifer yellow. Double-labeled motoneurons were reconstructed, and the number of primary projections and soma volumes were calculated. Whereas pups in each group exhibited the same number (P = 0.226) and duration (P = 0.093) of respiratory event types and comparable motoneuron morphologies, pups in the implant group exhibited more central apneas and respiratory instability relative to pups allowed to develop without interference.
- upper airway
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