Extracellular matrix deformations of the porcine recurrent laryngeal nerve in response to hydrostatic pressure

Hirut G. Kollech, Melissa R. Chao, Amanda C. Stark, Rebecca Z. German, Randal C. Paniello, Michael B. Christensen, Julie M. Barkmeier-Kraemer, Jonathan P. Vande Geest

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

Damage to the recurrent laryngeal nerve (RLN) caused by supraphysiological compression or tension imposed by adjacent tissue structures, such as the aorta, may contribute to onset of idiopathic unilateral vocal fold paralysis (iUVP) resulting in difficulty speaking, breathing, and swallowing. We previously demonstrated in adolescent pigs that the right RLN epineurium exhibits uniform composition of adipose tissue, with larger quantities along its length within the neck region in contrast to the left RLN that shows greater collagen composition in the thoracic region and greater quantities of adipose tissue in the neck region. In contrast, the epineurium in piglets was primarily composed of collagen tissue that remained uniform along the length of the left and right RLNs. Tensile testing of the left and right RLN in piglets and pigs showed associated differences in strain by RLN side and segment by age. The goal of this study was to investigate how external hydrostatic compression of the RLN affects the nerve's connective tissue and microstructure. RLN segments were harvested from the distal (cervical/neck) regions and proximal (subclavian for the right RLN, thoracic for the left RLN) regions from eight adolescent pigs and nine piglets. RLN segments were isolated and assessed under fluid compression to test hypotheses regarding epineurium composition and response to applied forces. Second harmonic generation (SHG) imaging of epineurial collagen was conducted at 0, 40, and 80 mmHg of compression. The cartesian strain tensor, principal strain (Eps1), and principal direction of the RLN collagen fibers were determined at each pressure step. Significantly larger values of the 1st principal strain occurred in the proximal segments of the pig left RLN when compared to the same segment in piglets (p = 0.001, pig = 0.0287 [IQR = 0.0161 - 0.0428], piglet = 0.0061 [IQR = 0.0033 - 0.0156]). Additionally, the median transverse strain Eyy) for the second pressure increment was larger in the right proximal segment of pigs compared to piglets (p < 0.001, pig = 0.0122 [IQR = 0.0033 - 0.0171], piglet = 0.0013 [IQR = 0.00001 - 0.0028]). Eyy values were significantly larger in the right proximal RLN versus the left proximal RLNs in pigs but not in piglets (p < 0.001). In contrast to piglets, histological analysis of pig RLN demonstrated increased axial alignment of epineurial and endoneurial collagen in response to compressive pressure. These findings support the hypothesis that the biomechanical response of the RLN to compressive pressure changed from being similar to being different between the right and left RLNs during development in the porcine model. Further investigation of these findings associated with age-related onset of idiopathic UVP may illuminate underlying etiologic mechanisms. Statement of significance: Damage to the recurrent laryngeal nerve (RLN) caused by compression imposed by the aorta may contribute to the onset of left-sided idiopathic unilateral vocal fold paralysis resulting in difficulty speaking, breathing, and swallowing. The goal of this study was to investigate how compression affects the connective tissue and microstructure of the RLN. We quantified the pressure induced deformation of the RLN using multiphoton imaging as a function of both location (proximal versus distal) and age (piglets, adolescent pigs). Our results demonstrate that the biomechanical response of the RLN to compression changes in the right versus left RLN throughout development, providing further evidence that the the left RLN is exposed to increasing dynamic loads with age.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)364-373
Number of pages10
JournalActa Biomaterialia
Volume153
DOIs
StatePublished - Nov 2022

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