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Sleep. 2019 Jul 8;42(7). pii: zsz089. doi: 10.1093/sleep/zsz089.

Obstructive sleep apnea, nighttime arousals, and leukocyte telomere length: the Multi-Ethnic Study of Atherosclerosis.

Author information

1
Department of Psychiatry and Biobehavioral Sciences, Cousins Center for Psychoneuroimmunology, Semel Institute for Neuroscience and Human Behavior, University of California, Los Angeles, CA.
2
Department of Medicine, Division of Geriatrics, David Geffen School of Medicine, University of California, Los Angeles, CA.
3
Department of Epidemiology, School of Public Health, Drexel University, Philadelphia, PA.
4
Department of Psychiatry, Univeristy of California, San Francisco, CA.
5
Department of Biochemistry and Biophysics, University of California, San Francisco, CA.
6
Department of Medicine, Brigham and Women's Hospital and Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center, Harvard Medical School, Boston, MA.

Abstract

STUDY OBJECTIVES:

Sleep disturbances and sleep apnea are associated with increased vulnerability to age-related disease, altering molecular pathways affecting biological aging. Telomere length captures one component of biological aging. We evaluated whether objectively assessed sleep and sleep apnea relate to leukocyte telomere length (LTL) in the Multi-Ethnic Study of Atherosclerosis (MESA).

METHODS:

Men and women aged 44-84 years (n = 672) from the MESA Stress and MESA Sleep studies underwent polysomnography and 7 day actigraphy (at Exam 5) and assessment of LTL (at baseline [Exam 1] and about 10 years later [Exam 5]).

RESULTS:

General linear models adjusting for age, sex, race/ethnicity, BMI, physical activity, and smoking found that severe obstructive sleep apnea (OSA; apnea-hypopnea index > 30) was cross-sectionally associated with shorter LTL (p = 0.007). Modest associations of shorter LTL with less rapid eye movement sleep, more stage 1 sleep, wake after sleep onset >30 min, and long sleep duration were found, but these effects were diminished after adjusting for lifestyle and OSA. Exploratory analyses found that higher arousal index at Exam 5 was associated with greater LTL decline over the prior 10 years (p = 0.004).

CONCLUSIONS:

OSA was associated with shorter LTL. Individuals with high-arousal frequency had greater leukocyte telomere attrition over the prior decade. These findings suggest that sleep apnea and sleep fragmentation are associated with accelerated biological aging.

KEYWORDS:

actigraphy; aging; biomarkers; epidemiology; obstructive sleep apnea; psychoneuroimmunology; sleep; telomere length

PMID:
30994174
PMCID:
PMC6612669
[Available on 2020-04-17]
DOI:
10.1093/sleep/zsz089

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