Response of the cricothyroid and thyroarytenoid muscles to stereotactic injection of substance P into the region of the nucleus tractus solitarius in developing dogs

Document Type

Journal Article

Publication Date



Annals of Otology, Rhinology and Laryngology




12 I




Cricothyroid muscle; Dog; Electromyography; Laryngospasm; Nucleus tractus solitarius; Substance P; Thyroarytenoid muscle


Substance P (SP), a putative sensory neurotransmitter, mediates reflex laryngeal adductor activity in developing dogs. Such reflex activity includes life-threatening laryngospasm induced by stimulation of distal esophageal afferent nerves. The site of SP's activity is unknown. This research was undertaken to determine whether injection of SP into the nucleus tractus solitarius (NTS) of developing beagles alters laryngeal adductor motor activity. Six animals, 57 to 78 days of age, underwent stereotactic injection of 5 to 10 μL of SP into the region of the NTS, identified by electrical stimulation of the ipsilateral superior laryngeal nerve. In 8 additional studies, SP was injected into the cerebellum (2) or brain stem (6) distant from the NTS. Cardiovascular and electromyographic (EMG) responses of the diaphragm and the cricothyroid (CT) and/or thyroarytenoid (TA) muscles were recorded in all 6 animals. Injection of SP into the region of the NTS induced a decrease in blood pressure in all animals and an increase in either ipsilateral CT or TA activity. Three of these animals experienced mixed apnea characterized by sustained EMG activity (spasm) of the ipsilateral CT or TA muscles and an absence of diaphragm EMG activity. The apnea event was fatal in 1 of these animals. In the 6 animals who underwent injections in the brain stem but outside the region of the NTS, diaphragm and laryngeal EMG activity generally did not change after injection of SP, with the exception of 1 animal who experienced a mild, short-lived increase in ipsilateral CT activity. A brief phasic increase in ipsilateral CT activity was seen in both animals who underwent injection of SP into the cerebellum. A putative sensory neurotransmitter, SP evokes ipsilateral CT and/or TA EMG activity when injected into the region of the NTS in developing beagle dogs. This research suggests that SP in the NTS may play a role in mediating life-threatening laryngeal adductor reflexes in developing mammals and may provide important information regarding therapeutic intervention.

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