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Early impacts of modified food consistency on oromotor outcomes in mouse models of Down syndrome

Glass, Tiffany J., Twadell, Sara L., Valmadrid, Luke C., Connor, Nadine P.
Physiology & behavior 2019 v.199 pp. 273-281
Down syndrome, animal models, central nervous system, deglutition, genotype, humans, mastication, mice, muscles, myosin heavy chains, risk, weaning, weight gain
Down syndrome (DS) in humans is associated with differences of the central nervous system and oromotor development. DS also increases risks for pediatric feeding challenges, which sometimes involve the use of altered food consistencies. Therefore, experimental food consistency paradigms are of interest to oromotor investigations in mouse models of Down syndrome (DS). The present work reports impacts of an altered food consistency paradigm on the Ts65Dn and Dp(16)1Yey mouse models of DS, and sibling control mice. At weaning, Ts65Dn, Dp(16)1Yey and respective controls were assigned to receive either a hard food or a soft food (eight experimental groups, n = 8–10 per group). Two weeks later, mice were assessed for mastication speeds and then euthanized for muscle analysis. Soft food conditions were associated with significantly smaller weight gain (p = .003), significantly less volitional water intake through licking (p = .0001), and significant reductions in size of anterior digastric myofibers positive for myosin heavy chain isoform (MyHC) 2b (p = .049). Genotype was associated with significant differences in weight gain (p = .004), significant differences in mastication rate (p = .001), significant differences in a measure of anterior digastric muscle size (p = .03), and significant reductions in size of anterior digastric myofibers positive for MyHC 2a (p = .04). In multiple measures, the Ts65Dn model of DS was more affected than other genotype groups. Findings indicate a soft food consistency condition in mice is associated with significant reductions in weight gain and oromotor activity, and may impact digastric muscle. This suggests extended periods of food consistency modifications may have impacts that extend beyond their immediate roles in facilitating deglutition.