The relationship between circulating biomarkers of nitric oxide and endothelin-1 and hemodynamic function in obstructive sleep apnea
Hawkins, Brian John
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Obstructive sleep apnea (OSA) is a disorder that affects a significant portion of middle-aged adult population. Patients exhibit recurring episodes of upper airway obstruction during sleep that decrease blood oxygen concentration (hypoxia) and are terminated by brief arousals. Epidemiologically, OSA has been extensively linked to cardiovascular dysfunction and is an independent risk factor for the development of hypertension. The proposed mechanism of cardiovascular dysfunction in patients is chronic sympathoexcitation and altered vascular tone, with a predominance of the vasoconstrictor endothelin-1 (ET-1) and removal of the vasodilator nitric oxide (NO). Means to reduce the effects of ET-1 and increase synthesis of NO may have beneficial effects on the cardiovascular co-morbidity commonly associated with OSA. OBJECTIVES: The major aim of this study was to assess the relative importance of circulating biomarkers of ET-1 and NO in hemodynamic function in OSA patients. Potential production of ET-1 by circulating mononuclear cells was also measured to assess their contribution to plasma ET-1 levels. Biomarker levels before and after 12 wk of continuous partial airway pressure (CPAP) therapy were used to assess standard treatment. Mild/moderate exercise training was initiated with CPAP therapy in a subgroup of OSA patients to evaluate the potential benefits of physical activity on hemodynamic function and NO and ET-1 levels. METHODS: Overall, 16 newly diagnosed OSA patients (5 female, 11 male; age 45.4 Â± 2.7 yr; RDI 24.6 Â± 4.0 events/hr) were selected for study. Seven apparently healthy control volunteers (5 female, 2 male; age 39.43 Â± 2.6 yr) screened for OSA served as control subjects. Blood pressure was recorded over one complete day and prior to, during, and following maximal exercise testing on a cycle ergometer. Blood samples were taken prior to exercise testing and assessed for nitrate and nitrite by HPLC and for big endothelin-1 and ET-1 by ELISA. Relative gene expression of preproendothelin-1 was measured by real-time RT-PCR. Following initial testing, patients were stratified into either a standard therapy group (nCPAP) or a standard therapy group with a mild/moderate intensity aerobic training regimen (nCPAP+Ex). Baseline testing was repeated following 12 wk of treatment. Statistical significance was set at p < 0.05 a priori. RESULTS: 24 hr ambulatory systolic and diastolic blood pressure were elevated in OSA patients vs. control subjects (systolic: 128.9 Â± 3.8 mmHg vs. 108.8 +- 1.3 mmHg, respectively; diastolic: 97.5 Â± 2.0 mmHg vs. 82.1 Â± 1.9 mmHg, respectively). OSA patients experienced significant elevations in systolic (OSA 209.7 Â± 5.7 mmHg; Control 174.5 +- 6.2 mmHg) and mean arterial pressures (OSA 125.8 Â± 3.2 mmHg; Control 109.05 Â± 4.5 mmHg) at peak exercise. No differences in nitrate, nitrite, or big endothelin-1 were noted. Plasma endothelin-1 concentrations were below assay detection limit. Big endothelin-1 levels were significantly correlated with BMI in both OSA patients (r=0.955; p=0.001) and control subjects (r=0.799; p=0.045). Relative gene expression of preproendothelin-1 was not elevated in OSA patients (0.40 Â± 0.20 fold increase over control subjects). Group nCPAP usage was above minimum therapeutic threshold, but was non-uniform in both groups, with an overall range of 182 to 495 min mean usage per night. A mild/moderate exercise training program failed to elicit a training response through standard hemodynamic or cardiopulmonary indices. Plasma nitrite levels rose from 55.3 Â± 4.7 μg/ml to 71.0 Â± 7.6 μg/ml in the nCPAP group. CONCLUSIONS: Moderate OSA is associated with elevated blood pressure at rest and during exercise stress that bears no relationship to circulating biomarkers of NO and ET-1 or immune preproendothelin production in patients without diagnosed hypertension. nCPAP therapy failed to elicit significant improvements in hemodynamic function, with or without moderate exercise. Plasma nitrite levels rose following nCPAP therapy, indicating a possible increase in basal nitric oxide formation. Higher intensity exercise regimens may be needed to elicit the positive benefits of exercise training in OSA patients without significant cardiovascular dysfunction.
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