• aging;
  • electrical stimulation;
  • muscle contraction;
  • swallowing;
  • tongue


Introduction: Age-related decreases in tongue muscle mass and strength have been reported. It may be possible to prevent age-related tongue muscle changes using neuromuscular electrical stimulation (NMES). Our hypothesis was that alterations in muscle contractile properties and myosin heavy chain composition would be found after NMES. Methods: Fifty-four young, middle-aged, and old 344/Brown Norway rats were included in this study. Twenty-four rats underwent bilateral electrical stimulation of the hypoglossal nerves for 8 weeks and were compared with control or sham rats. Muscle contractile properties and myosin heavy chain (MHC) in the genioglossus (GG), styloglossus (SG), and hyoglossus (HG) muscles were examined. Results: Compared with unstimulated control rats, we found reduced muscle fatigue, increased contraction and half-decay times, and increased twitch and tetanic tension. Increased type I MHC was found, except for in GG in old and middle-aged rats. Conclusion: Transitions in tongue muscle contractile properties and phenotype were found after NMES. Muscle Nerve, 2013