Send to:

Choose Destination
See comment in PubMed Commons below
J Appl Physiol (1985). 2003 Nov;95(5):1761-6. Epub 2003 Jul 11.

Relationship between surface tension of upper airway lining liquid and upper airway collapsibility during sleep in obstructive sleep apnea hypopnea syndrome.

Author information

  • 1Ludwig Engel Centre for Respiratory Research, Westmead Hospital and University of Sydney, Sydney, New South Wales, Australia 2145.


Lowering surface tension (gamma) of upper airway lining liquid (UAL) reduces upper airway opening (anesthetized humans) and closing (anesthetized rabbits) pressures. We now hypothesize that in sleeping obstructive sleep apnea hypopnea syndrome (OSAHS) patients lowering gamma of UAL will enhance upper airway stability and decrease the severity of sleep-disordered breathing. Nine OSAHS patients [respiratory disturbance index (RDI): 49 +/- 8 (SE) events/h, diagnostic night] participated in a two-part, one-night, polysomnography study. In the first part, upper airway closing pressures (during non-rapid eye movement sleep, Pcrit) were measured and samples of UAL (awake) were obtained before and after 2.5 ml of surfactant (Exosurf, Glaxo Smith Kline) was instilled into the posterior pharynx. The gamma of UAL was determined with the use of the "pull-off" force technique. In the second part, subjects received a second application of 2.5 ml of surfactant and then slept the remainder of the night (205 +/- 30 min). Instillation of surfactant decreased the gamma of UAL from 60.9 +/- 3.1 mN/m (control) to 45.2 +/- 2.5 mN/m (surfactant group) (n = 9, P < 0.001). Pcrit decreased from 1.19 +/- 1.14 cmH2O (control) to -0.56 +/- 1.15 cmH2O (surfactant group) (n = 7, P < 0.02). Compared with the second half of diagnostic night, surfactant decreased RDI from 51 +/- 8 to 35 +/- 8 events/h (n = 9, P < 0.03). The fall in RDI (deltaRDI) correlated with the fall in gamma of UAL (deltagamma) (deltaRDI = 1.8 x deltagamma, r = 0.68, P = 0.04). Hypopneas decreased approximately 50% from 42 +/- 8 to 20 +/- 5 events/h (n = 9, P < 0.03, paired t-test). The gamma of UAL measured the next morning remained low at 49.5 +/- 2.7 mN/m (n = 9, P < 0.001, ANOVA, compared with control). In conclusion, instillation of surfactant reduced the gamma of UAL in OSAHS patients and decreased Pcrit and the occurrence of hypopneas. Therapeutic manipulation of gamma of UAL may be beneficial in reducing the severity of sleep-disordered breathing in OSAHS patients.

Comment in

[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
Free full text
PubMed Commons home

PubMed Commons

How to join PubMed Commons

    Supplemental Content

    Full text links

    Icon for HighWire
    Loading ...
    Write to the Help Desk