Jadcherla SR, Shubert TR, Gulati IK, Jensen PS, Wei L, Shaker R. Upper and lower esophageal sphincter kinetics are modified during maturation: effect of pharyngeal stimulus in premature infants. Pediatr Res. 2015 Jan;77(1-1):99-106. doi: 10.1038/pr.2014.147. Epub 2014 Oct 3. PubMed PMID: 25279989; PubMed Central PMCID: PMC4268006.
We hypothesized that changes in proximal and distal esophageal sphincter kinetics evoked upon pharyngeal provocation undergo longitudinal maturation.
Pharyngeal stimulation-induced reflexes were characterized using novel pharyngo-esophageal motility methods in 19 healthy premature neonates, studied at 34.7 ± 0.8 wk (time-1) and 39.3 ± 1.1 wk postmenstrual age (time-2). Graded volumes of air (290 infusions) and sterile water (172 infusions) were infused to define sensory-motor characteristics of upstream (pharyngeal reflexive swallow, PRS) and downstream (pharyngo-lower esophageal sphincter relaxation reflex, PLESRR) esophageal reflexes. Data displayed as mean ± SE.
Threshold volumes were similar with air and water for PRS and PLESRR at time-1 and time-2. Multiple PRS responses were noted with water stimulus and were different between the media (time-1 vs. air, P < 0.0001; time-2 vs. air, P = 0.0003). Dose-response relationships for water were significant (P < 0.01 for PRS and PLESRR time-1 and time-2), but not with air.
Significantly, the recruitment frequency of PRS and PLESRR increases with maturation, liquid is a superior medium for evoking such swallowing reflexes, and stimulus-response relationships for these reflexes are evident. These changes in aerodigestive protective reflexive activity may indicate differences in modulation of excitatory and inhibitory pathways during longitudinal postnatal maturation.