The postnatal growth of kitten genioglossal motoneurons was examined in six different age groups (newborn, 2, 4, 8, and 12 weeks and adult) using the technique of retrograde transport of horseradish peroxidase (HRP). The cell bodies of 100–150 motoneurons in each age group were analyzed in a transverse plane of section using standard techniques. Somatic genioglossal motoneuron growth occurred primarily along the major axis, which increased from 25.2 μm to 41.3 μm between birth and 8 weeks of postnatal age, after which time there was no further increase in either major or minor dimension of the cell body. The form factor decreased from 0.94 to 0.80 from birth to adulthood indicating an increased eccentricity of the cell body. The number of primary dendrites visible with this technique remained constant throughout the postnatal period. Calculated somal surface area increased in a linear fashion from birth through 8 weeks of postnatal life. There was no further increase in surface area beyond this age. The rate of increase in somal surface area with age was significantly different from both the rate of increase of animal weight and animal surface area with age. The correlations between the demonstrated immature genioglossal morphology and its cellular electrophysiology or integrated respiratory function remain unknown. The recent demonstration of decreased activation of the genioglossus muscle following airway occlusion in premature infants with apnea suggests that the relationships between developing genioglossal motoneuron structure and function warrant further investigation. Pediatr Pilmonol. 1989; 7:133‐139.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Pediatrics, Perinatology, and Child Health
- Pulmonary and Respiratory Medicine