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Respir Physiol Neurobiol. 2003 Jul 16;136(2-3):221-34.

Sleep and respiratory stimulus specific dampening of cortical responsiveness in OSAS.

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Department of Neurology, Cairo University, Cairo, Egypt.


The application of inspiratory occlusion stimuli produces cortical responses called respiratory-related evoked potentials (RREPs). During wakefulness the RREP waveform consists of early P1 and Nf components, an N1 and a P300. During non-REM sleep the predominant component is an N550, best seen in the averages of elicited K-complexes. Obstructive sleep apnea syndrome (OSAS) patients have been previously shown to have a normal wake RREP but to have a reduced amplitude N550 and a smaller proportion of elicited K-complexes than controls. The present study tested the hypothesis that this reflects a sleep-specific dampening peculiar to inspiratory effort-related stimuli, by assessing both respiratory and auditory evoked potentials (AEPs) during wakefulness and non-REM sleep in OSAS patients and controls. Auditory tones were presented in an oddball sequence during wakefulness and as a monotonous series during stage 2 sleep. Inspiratory occlusions, delivered for 500 msec via an nCPAP mask were also presented during wakefulness and stage 2 sleep, every three to five breaths. Data were collected from ten OSAS patients and ten controls. There were no significant differences in the amplitudes of the auditory N1 and P3 or the respiratory P1, Nf, N1 or P3 components during wakefulness. The amplitude of the auditory N550 and the proportion of elicited K-complexes did not differ between groups for auditory stimuli presented during stage 2 sleep. The respiratory N550 and K-complex elicitation rate were both significantly reduced in the OSAS group, despite there being no differences in the mask occlusion pressure response to the occlusion. The results confirm a blunted cortical response to inspiratory occlusions that is specific to sleep. The absence of significant group differences in the responses to auditory stimuli highlight that the sleep-related differences seen in OSAS patients are specific to the processing of inspiratory effort related stimuli.

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