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Authors Kletzien H, Russell JA, Leverson GE, Connor NP
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Journal J. Appl. Physiol. Volume: 114 Issue: 4 Pages: 472-81
Publish Date 2013 Feb 15
PubMed ID 23264540
PMC ID 3568981

Age-associated changes in tongue muscle structure and strength may contribute to dysphagia in elderly people. Tongue exercise is a current treatment option. We hypothesized that targeted tongue exercise and nontargeted exercise that activates tongue muscles as a consequence of increased respiratory drive, such as treadmill running, are associated with different patterns of tongue muscle contraction and genioglossus (GG) muscle biochemistry. Thirty-one young adult, 34 middle-aged, and 37 old Fischer 344/Brown Norway rats received either targeted tongue exercise, treadmill running, or no exercise (5 days/wk for 8 wk). Protrusive tongue muscle contractile properties and myosin heavy chain (MHC) composition in the GG were examined at the end of 8 wk across groups. Significant age effects were found for maximal twitch and tetanic tension (greatest in young adult rats), MHCIIb (highest proportion in young adult rats), MHCIIx (highest proportion in middle-aged and old rats), and MHCI (highest proportion in old rats). The targeted tongue exercise group had the greatest maximal twitch tension and the highest proportion of MHCI. The treadmill running group had the shortest half-decay time, the lowest proportion of MHCIIa, and the highest proportion of MHCIIb. Fatigue was significantly less in the young adult treadmill running group and the old targeted tongue exercise group than in other groups. Thus, tongue muscle structure and contractile properties were affected by both targeted tongue exercise and treadmill running, but in different ways. Studies geared toward optimizing dose and manner of providing targeted and generalized tongue exercise may lead to alternative tongue exercise delivery strategies.

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