Respiratory activity of the rat posterior cricoarytenoid muscle

Robert G. Berkowitz*, John Chalmers, Q. I Jian Sun, Paul M. Pilowsky

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

12 Citations (Scopus)


An anatomic and electrophysiological study of the rat posterior cricoarytenoid (PCA) muscle is described. The intramuscular nerve distribution of the PCA branch of the recurrent laryngeal nerve was demonstrated by a modified Sihler's stain. The nerve to the PCA was found to terminate in superior and inferior branches with a distribution that appeared to be confined to the PCA muscle. Electromyography (EMG) recordings of PCA muscle activity in anesthetized rats were obtained under stereotaxic control together with measurement of phrenic nerve discharge. A total of 151 recordings were made in 7 PCA muscles from 4 rats. Phasic inspiratory activity with a waveform similar to that of phrenic nerve discharge was found in 134 recordings, while a biphasic pattern with both inspiratory and post- inspiratory peaks was recorded from random sites within the PCA muscle off 17 occasions. The PCA EMG activity commenced 24.6 ± 2.2 milliseconds (p < .0001) before phrenic nerve discharge. The results are in accord with findings of earlier studies that show that PCA muscle activity commences prior to inspiratory airflow and diaphragmatic muscle activity. The data suggest that PCA and diaphragm motoneurons share common or similar medullary pre-motoneurons. The earlier onset of PCA muscle activity may indicate a role for medullary pre-inspiratory neurons in initiating PCA activity.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)897-901
Number of pages5
JournalAnnals of Otology, Rhinology and Laryngology
Issue number11
Publication statusPublished - 1997
Externally publishedYes


  • Electromyography
  • Posterior cricoarytenoid muscle
  • Rat
  • Recurrent laryngeal nerve
  • Respiration


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