09:48pm Wednesday 20 September 2017

Discovery of unique muscle fibers of upper airway in humans

“This discovery of special group of fibers gives us deeper insight into the complex anatomy and physiology of the upper airway and evolutionary specialization. These unique fibers have a special molecular build-up with an absence or modified design of some key proteins. Surprisingly, absence of these proteins have only been reported in genetic muscular diseases,” says Farhan Shah, researcher at the Department of Integrative Medical Biology at Umeå University and lead author of the article.

The team at the Umeå University Laboratory of Muscle Biology, under the leadership of docent Per Stål, has taken a novel approach to see if snoring vibrations and tissue stretch can cause neuromuscular damage in upper airways and result in obstructive sleep apnea and swallowing dysfunction. These unique fibers were discovered while investigating muscles from both healthy subjects and obstructive sleep apnea patients.
Farhan Shah, Umeå University.
Farhan Shah at the Department of Integrative Medical Biology. Credit: Per Melander

The ongoing project seeks to better understand upper airway muscle function in health and in disorders as obstructive sleep apnea, dysphagia and speech disorders. Sleep apnea is associated with serious potential implications such as cardiovascular disorders, dementia and early death.

“Our published findings are significant and will hopefully help guide more successful treatment strategies in the future. This is just a step along the way, but it is an important one,” said Per Stål, associate professor at the Department of Integrative Medical Biology.

Credit: Flickr

Read an online version of the article in Journal of Anatomy
Original article

Journal of Anatomy. Unique expression of cytoskeletal proteins in human soft palate muscles (2015). Shah, F., Berggren, D., Holmlund, T., Levring Jäghagen, E. and Stål, P. DOI: 10.1111/joa.12417
For more information, please contact:

Farhan Shah
Department of Integrative Medical Biology, Umeå University
Phone: +46 90-786 51 36
Email: farhan.shah@umu.se


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