PloS one

Intermittent Hypoxia Alters Gene Expression in Peripheral Blood Mononuclear Cells of Healthy Volunteers.

PMID 26657991


Obstructive sleep apnea is associated with high cardiovascular morbidity and mortality. Intermittent hypoxia of obstructive sleep apnea is implicated in the development and progression of insulin resistance and atherosclerosis, which have been attributed to systemic inflammation. Intermittent hypoxia leads to pro-inflammatory gene up-regulation in cell culture, but the effects of intermittent hypoxia on gene expression in humans have not been elucidated. A cross-over study was performed exposing eight healthy men to intermittent hypoxia or control conditions for five hours with peripheral blood mononuclear cell isolation before and after exposures. Total RNA was isolated followed by gene microarrays and confirmatory real time reverse transcriptase PCR. Intermittent hypoxia led to greater than two fold up-regulation of the pro-inflammatory gene toll receptor 2 (TLR2), which was not increased in the control exposure. We hypothesize that up-regulation of TLR2 by intermittent hypoxia may lead to systemic inflammation, insulin resistance and atherosclerosis in patients with obstructive sleep apnea.