Short-term electrical stimulation alters tongue muscle fibre type composition

Eung Kwon Pae, Jon Philippe K. Hyatt, Jennifer Wu, Patricia Chien

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

16 Scopus citations


Objective: To examine whether short-term exogenous activation of a tongue muscle induced a phenotypic shift from a fast to a slow fibre-type, and thus assess a potential therapeutic avenue to protect against obstructive sleep apnoea (OSA). Methods: New Zealand White rabbit genioglossus (GG) muscle, characteristically a fast muscle, was continuously stimulated at a frequency attributed to slow muscle (10 Hz, 3 V DC pulses) using an implanted micro-circuit for 7 days. Changes in muscle fibre types and aerobic capacity were assessed between stimulated and un-stimulated (control) groups using immunohistochemistry and electrophoresis for myosin heavy chain (MHC) and assayed for citrate synthase. Results: Compared to the un-stimulated control group, stimulated GG muscles had more (∼13%) type I MHC (slow-twitch) content; a proportional decrease in type II MHC (fast-twitch) isoform also occurred in the stimulated GG muscle (P < 0.05). Electrophoresis analysis on whole muscle and single fibre MHC showed an increased type I expression in the stimulated GG muscle (P < 0.01). A commensurate rise in citrate synthase activity, indicating a change in aerobic capacity, was also observed in the stimulated GG muscles. Conclusion: Together, these results demonstrate a successful alteration in tongue muscle characteristics using exogenous electrical stimulation and perhaps a potential therapeutic application for OSA.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)544-551
Number of pages8
JournalArchives of Oral Biology
Issue number6
StatePublished - Jun 1 2007
Externally publishedYes


  • Citrate synthase
  • Genioglossus muscle
  • Myosin heavy chain
  • Obstructive sleep apnoea

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Otorhinolaryngology
  • Dentistry(all)
  • Cell Biology


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