OBJECTIVE To histologically evaluate and compare features of myofibers within the elongated soft palate (ESP) of brachycephalic and mesocephalic dogs with those in the soft palate of healthy dogs and to assess whether denervation or muscular dystrophy is associated with soft palate elongation.
SAMPLE Soft palate specimens from 24 dogs with ESPs (obtained during surgical intervention) and from 14 healthy Beagles (control group).
PROCEDURES All the soft palate specimens underwent histologic examination to assess myofiber atrophy, hypertrophy, hyalinization, and regeneration. The degrees of atrophy and hypertrophy were quantified on the basis of the coefficient of variation and the number of myofibers with hyalinization and regeneration. The specimens also underwent immunohistochemical analysis with anti-neurofilament or anti-dystrophin antibody to confirm the distribution of peripheral nerve branches innervating the palatine myofibers and myofiber dystrophin expression, respectively.
RESULTS Myofiber atrophy, hypertrophy, hyalinization, and regeneration were identified in almost all the ESP specimens. Degrees of atrophy and hypertrophy were significantly greater in the ESP specimens, compared with the control specimens. There were fewer palatine peripheral nerve branches in the ESP specimens than in the control specimens. Almost all the myofibers in the ESP and control specimens were dystrophin positive.
CONCLUSIONS AND CLINICAL RELEVANCE These results suggested that palatine myopathy in dogs may be caused, at least in part, by denervation of the palatine muscles and not by Duchenne- or Becker-type muscular dystrophy. These soft palate changes may contribute to upper airway collapse and the progression of brachycephalic airway obstructive syndrome.