Distinct cognitive changes in male patients with obstructive sleep apnoea without co-morbidities

Valentina Gnoni, Michel Mesquita, David O'Regan, Alessio Delogu, Ivan Chakalov, Andrea Antal, Allan H Young, Romola S Bucks, Melinda L Jackson, Ivana Rosenzweig

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


INTRODUCTION: Obstructive sleep apnoea (OSA) is a multisystem, debilitating, chronic disorder of breathing during sleep, resulting in a relatively consistent pattern of cognitive deficits. More recently, it has been argued that those cognitive deficits, especially in middle-aged patients, may be driven by cardiovascular and metabolic comorbidities, rather than by distinct OSA-processes, such as are for example ensuing nocturnal intermittent hypoxaemia, oxidative stress, neuroinflammation, and sleep fragmentation.

METHODS: Thus, we undertook to define cognitive performance in a group of 27 middle-aged male patients with untreated OSA, who had no concomitant comorbidities, compared with seven matched controls (AHI mean ± S.D.: 1.9 ± 1.4 events/h; mean age 34.0 ± 9.3 years; mean BMI 23.8 ± 2.3 kg/m 2). Of the 27 patients, 16 had mild OSA (AHI mean ± S.D.:11.7 ± 4.0 events/h; mean age 42.6 ± 8.2 years; mean BMI 26.7 ± 4.1 kg/m 2), and 11 severe OSA (AHI 41.8 ± 20.7 events/h; age: 46.9 ± 10.9 years, BMI: 28.0 ± 3.2 kg/m 2).

RESULTS: In our patient cohort, we demonstrate poorer executive-functioning, visuospatial memory, and deficits in vigilance sustained attention, psychomotor and impulse control. Remarkably, we also report, for the first time, effects on social cognition in this group of male, middle-aged OSA patients.

CONCLUSION: Our findings suggest that distinct, OSA-driven processes may be sufficient for cognitive changes to occur as early as in middle age, in otherwise healthy individuals.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1097946
JournalFrontiers in sleep
Publication statusPublished - 6 Apr 2023


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