Genioglossal inspiratory activation: Central respiratory vs mechanoreceptive influences

Giora Pillar, Robert B. Fogel, Atul Malhotra, Josée Beauregard, Jill K. Edwards, Steven A. Shea, David P. White

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

42 Scopus citations


Upper airway dilator muscles are phasically activated during respiration. We assessed the interaction between central respiratory drive and local (mechanoreceptive) influences upon genioglossal (GG) activity throughout inspiration. GGEMG and airway mechanics were measured in 16 awake subjects during baseline spontaneous breathing, increased central respiratory drive (inspiratory resistive loading; IRL), and decreased respiratory drive (hypocapnic negative pressure ventilation), both prior to and following dense upper airway topical anesthesia. Negative epiglottic pressure (Pepi) was significantly correlated with GGEMG across inspiration (i.e. within breaths). Both passive ventilation and IRL led to significant decreases in the sensitivity of the relationship between GGEMG and Pepi (slope GGEMG vs Pepi), but yielded no change in the relationship (correlation) between GGEMG and Pepi. During negative pressure ventilation, pharyngeal resistance increased modestly, but significantly. Anesthesia in all conditions led to decrements in phasic GGEMG, increases in pharyngeal resistance, and decrease in the relationship between Pepi and GGEMG. We conclude that both central output to the GG and local reflex mediated activation are important in maintaining upper airway patency.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)23-38
Number of pages16
JournalRespiration Physiology
Issue number1
StatePublished - 2001
Externally publishedYes


  • Control of breathing, central respiratory drive
  • Mammals, humans
  • Mechanics of breathing, upper airways
  • Muscles, genioglossus
  • Receptors, mechanoreceptors, upper airways
  • Sleep, apnea
  • Upper airways, dilator muscles

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Physiology
  • Pulmonary and Respiratory Medicine


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