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Am J Physiol Endocrinol Metab. 2008 Aug;295(2):E380-4. doi: 10.1152/ajpendo.00780.2007. Epub 2008 Jun 3.

Effect of continuous positive airway pressure therapy on hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal axis function and 24-h blood pressure profile in obese men with obstructive sleep apnea syndrome.

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  • 1Department of Medicine, Division of Endocrinology, Universidade Federal de São Paulo, Rua Leandro Dupret 365, Vila Clementino, São Paulo, Brazil.


Obstructive sleep apnea syndrome (OSAS) increases the risk of cardiovascular events. Sympathetic nervous system and hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal (HPA) axis activation may be the mechanism of this relationship. The aim of this study was to evaluate HPA axis and ambulatory blood pressure monitoring in obese men with and without OSAS and to determine whether nasal continuous positive airway pressure therapy (nCPAP) influenced responses. Twenty-four-hour ambulatory blood pressure monitoring and overnight cortisol suppression test with 0.25 mg of dexamethasone were performed in 16 obese men with OSAS and 13 obese men controls. Nine men with severe apnea were reevaluated 3 mo after nCPAP therapy. Body mass index and blood pressure of OSAS patients and obese controls were similar. In OSAS patients, the percentage of fall in systolic blood pressure at night (P = 0.027) and salivary cortisol suppression postdexamethasone (P = 0.038) were lower, whereas heart rate (P = 0.022) was higher compared with obese controls. After nCPAP therapy, patients showed a reduction in heart rate (P = 0.036) and a greater cortisol suppression after dexamethasone (P = 0.001). No difference in arterial blood pressure (P = 0.183) was observed after 3 mo of nCPAP therapy. Improvement in cortisol suppression was positively correlated with an improvement in apnea-hypopnea index during nCPAP therapy (r = 0.799, P = 0.010). In conclusion, men with OSAS present increased postdexamethasone cortisol levels and heart rate, which were recovered by nCPAP.

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