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J Appl Physiol (1985). 2007 Feb;102(2):557-63. Epub 2006 Nov 2.

Hyperlipidemia and lipid peroxidation are dependent on the severity of chronic intermittent hypoxia.

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Division of Pulmonary and Critical Care Medicine, Department of Medicine, Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine, Baltimore, Maryland 21224, USA.


Obstructive sleep apnea (OSA) is characterized by chronic intermittent hypoxia (CIH) and associated with dysregulation of lipid metabolisms and atherosclerosis. Causal relationships between OSA and metabolic abnormalities have not been established because of confounding effects of underlying obesity. The goal of the study was to determine if CIH causes lipid peroxidation and dyslipidemia in the absence of obesity and whether the degrees of dyslipidemia and lipid peroxidation depend on the severity of hypoxia. Lean C57BL/6J mice were exposed to CIH for 4 wk with a fractional inspired O2 (FI(O2)) nadir of either 10% (moderate CIH) or 5% (severe CIH). Mice exposed to severe CIH exhibited significant increases in fasting serum levels of total cholesterol (129 +/- 2.9 vs. 113 +/- 2.8 mg/dl in control mice, P < 0.05) and low-density lipoprotein cholesterol (85.7 +/- 8.9 vs. 56.4 +/- 9.7 mg/dl, P < 0.05) in conjunction with a 1.5- to 2-fold increase in lipoprotein secretion, and upregulation of hepatic stearoyl coenzyme A desaturase 1 (SCD-1). Severe CIH also markedly increased lipid peroxidation in the liver (malondialdehyde levels of 94.4 +/- 5.4 vs. 57.4 +/- 5.2 nmol/mg in control mice, P < 0.001). In contrast, moderate CIH did not induce hyperlipidemia or change in hepatic SCD-1 levels but did cause lipid peroxidation in the liver at a reduced level relative to severe CIH. In conclusion, CIH leads to hypercholesterolemia and lipid peroxidation in the absence of obesity, and the degree of metabolic dysregulation is dependent on the severity of the hypoxic stimulus.

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