Impaired cerebrovascular reactivity in obstructive sleep apnea: a case-control study

Research output: Contribution to journalJournal articleResearchpeer-review

OBJECTIVE: Obstructive sleep apnea (OSA) is an independent risk factor for stroke. Little is known about the cerebrovascular hemodynamic changes during apnea. Hypercapnia occurs in apneas and hypopneas, and a reduced cerebral vasodilatory response to CO2 could compromise the cerebral blood flow (CBF). Therefore, we aimed to evaluate whether the apnea-hypopnea index (AHI) affected the cerebrovascular response to CO2.

METHODS: A total of 11 patients with OSA were compared to 16 controls. We assessed the cerebrovascular responses with arterial spin labeling (ASL) and blood oxygen level-dependent (BOLD) magnetic resonance imaging during hypercapnia or breath-holding tasks.

RESULTS: The CBF response to CO2 was impaired with increasing AHI (average CBF: p = 0.018; gray matter: p = 0.038; white matter: p = 0.045), that is, increased OSA severity. When comparing the OSA patients to the control subjects, the OSA patients had a significantly reduced CO2 response of the white matter CBF (p = 0.04). However, the BOLD response to CO2 and the breath-holding task did not show any significant differences between OSA patients and control subjects.

CONCLUSION: The cerebrovascular CO2 reactivity, measured by the CBF, was impaired with increasing AHI, that is, OSA severity. These findings may add to the understanding of the increased stroke risk found in OSA patients.

Original languageEnglish
JournalSleep Medicine
Pages (from-to)7-13
Publication statusPublished - 2018

ID: 218089207