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Year : 2020  |  Volume : 37  |  Issue : 1  |  Page : 18-23

Impact of intermittent hypoxia on peripheral nervous systems in obstructive sleep apnea syndrome

1 Department of Neurology, Okmeydani Training and Research Hospital, Istanbul, Turkey
2 Department of Neurology, Cerrahpasa Faculty of Medicine, Istanbul University-Cerrahpasa, Istanbul, Turkey

Correspondence Address:
Gulcin Benbir Senel
Department of Neurology, Faculty of Medicine, Istanbul University-Cerrahpasa, Fatih, 34098, Istanbul
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Source of Support: None, Conflict of Interest: None

DOI: 10.4103/2636-865X.283926

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Objectives: Intermittent hypoxia resulting in endothelial dysfunction in microvascular circulation constitutes one of the mechanisms underlying complications of obstructive sleep apnea syndrome (OSAS), such as hypertension and atherosclerosis. The role of intermittent hypoxia on peripheral nerves, however, is still debated. Here, we designed a study in patients with OSAS to investigate different levels of the central and peripheral nervous systems, in order to delineate what kind of pathologic substrate was present, if any, and at which level of the neuromuscular pathway. Methods: A total of 20 patients with OSAS and 18 sex- and age-matched healthy controls were enrolled in our study. All participants underwent nerve conduction studies (NCSs) to analyze peripheral nerves, evoked potentials for somatosensory, visual evoked potential (VEP) and brainstem auditory pathways, blink reflex studies to analyze brainstem and subcortical structures, and transcranial magnetic stimulation to analyze the motor cortex and corticospinal pathway. Results: A comparison of NCSs between the two groups showed that the motor amplitudes of the ulnar nerve (P = 0.015) and sensory amplitudes of the sural nerve (P = 0.026) were significantly smaller in the OSAS group than those in the control group. The mean P100 amplitudes of VEP responses were 7.11 ± 2.73 μV in the OSAS group and 9.75 ± 3.52 μV in the control group (P = 0.022). In correlation analysis, the amplitude of P100 responses was positively correlated with the lowest oxygen saturation (P = 0.026). Conclusion: Our results confirmed the presence of generalized axonal involvement in the peripheral nervous system in OSAS, probably secondary to chronic intermittent hypoxemia.

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