Defense Date


Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy



First Advisor

Dr. Stephen J. Goldberg


In most mammals, nutritive suckling is critical during the early neonatal period. The genioglossus (GG) muscle in rat plays an important role in protruding the tongue for efficient suckling. The purpose of this study was to examine the contractile properties and myosin heavy chain (MHC) phenotype of the GG following an early period of artificial rearing, which reduced nutritive suckling. Beginning at three days of age Sprague-Dawley rats were fed via implanted gastric cannula until postnatal day 14 (P14). At P14, artificially reared (AR) rat pups were either placed with a lactating dam until the end of the weaning period and allowed to mature until postnatal day 42 (P42), or anesthetized and prepared for physiological experimentation. GG contractile properties at P14 and P42 in AR and dam reared (DR) rats were obtained with a force transducer and digital recording system through stimulation of the medial branch of the hypoglossal nerve. Following physiological experimentation, muscle samples were removed and stored for MHC analysis. Comparisons were made between AR and DR groups at P14 and P42. At P14 maximum tetanic tension and fatigue index were lower in the AR group than the DR group and no differences were found in MHC distribution. By day 42, AR rats had a higher fatigue index that DR rats and DR rats had a higher percentage of MHCIIa than AR rats. The artificial rearing technique employed in this study was adequate to produce chronic changes in fatigue resistance and MHC distribution in GG muscle. GG muscle of premature human infants requiring early artificial feedings may develop similar changes in their contractile characteristics and MHC phenotype.


© The Author

Is Part Of

VCU University Archives

Is Part Of

VCU Theses and Dissertations

Date of Submission

June 2008

Included in

Physiology Commons